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First Satellite in Facebook’s Plan For Global Internet Access Exploded With Falcon 9

Mike Murphy, reporting for Quartz: The first step in Facebook’s grand vision to connect the entire world to the internet — or Facebook — has gone up in flames. Earlier today, a SpaceX rocket carrying a satellite that Facebook planned to use in its internet.org initiative exploded during a pre-launch test at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket was due to send the satellite up into orbit Sept. 3, but during the set-up and testing process, an “anomaly” occurred on the launch pad, according to SpaceX, and the rocket exploded. Facebook had planned to lease some of the bandwidth on the satellite, Amos 6, from its operator, the Israeli company SpaceCom, to beam internet to sub-Saharan Africa. The satellite was intended to fill in until Facebook’s more ambitious plans for internet access are ready, including developing and launching massive solar-powered drones that use lasers to beam internet to the ground. This the first time Facebook had planned to use a satellite.Facebook wanted to use the $200 million AMOS-6 satellite to beam free internet to developing parts of the world such as Africa. The satellite was supposed to ride SpaceX’s Falcon 9 into orbit. After hearing the news, Mark Zuckerberg said he is “deeply disappointed” to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed his satellite. But this setback won’t stop him from his goal to connect every person he can find on the face of the earth to get online. He said, “Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided.”

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