SpaceX Rocket Explosion Sets Back Facebook’s Internet Expansion in Africa
The company was test firing its unmanned rocket when it exploded at 9:07 a.m. Eastern time, according to a statement by the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. There were no casualties and no threat to public safety, officials said. But they have set up roadblocks around the station.
Social media posts showed dark smoke billowing up from the launch site, which is next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
— Hunter Blaeser (@MinnesotaLoving) September 1, 2016
According to Space X spokesperson Philip Larson, the rocket was carrying the Amos-6 satellite. It was destroyed.
The Amos-6 was built by Israeli communications firm Spacecom Ltd. and was owned and operated by Eutelsat from France. Facebook had purchased time on the satellite in order to beam Internet to parts of sub-Saharan Africa that the social media company is hoping to expand access to.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on what this setback will mean for its expansion program—of which the Amos-6 was a key part.
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