Facebook’s ambitious plans of bringing internet access across world partly went up in flames with the Space X rocket that exploded on Thursday.
The social networking giant had contracted the aeropsace manufacturer to deliver the first satellite that would make its pet project Internet.org effective in sub-Saharan Africa.
However, the explosion not only destroyed the Falcon 9 rocket but also its payload which included the Israeli communications satellite.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, currently in Africa, almost immediately took to his social media account to share the bad news.
“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” he said.
Despite the setback, he said they would “keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided”.
“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission.”
Facebook spent about $95 million to rent capacity on the satellite over the next five years along with French satellite operator, Eutelsat. The satellite, Amos-6, was built by Israeli satellite firm Spacecom.
The cause for the rocket explosion on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral in Florida is yet unclear. Preliminary reports indicated it had to do with the upper stage oxygen tanks.
The explosion though is not only a setback for Facebook, but for the California-based SpaceX itself. Internet entrepreneur Elon Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 with the goal of slashing launch costs to make travel to Mars affordable. The company plans to fly its first unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2018 and send humans to Mars as early as 2024.