The SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a test at its Cape Canaveral launch pad during a scheduled Thursday morning test and while this has happened before under totally different conditions, this time, the damage was bigger. It destroyed a satellite commissioned by Facebook intended to connect Sub Saharan Africa to the internet.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg who left Lagos, Nigeria this morning made this known in a post earlier while arriving Kenya on the second leg of his African tour which saw him spend the last two days in Nigeria.
According to the New York Daily News, “the blast occurred around 9 a.m. just before the test launch, sending thick flames and plumes of dark smoke into the air and causing buildings several miles away to shake. The fiery incident was caused by an “anomaly” on the pad itself “resulting in the loss of the vehicle and its payload,” according to a SpaceX statement. The rocket was unmanned and no one was injured.
The test-gone-awry was to prepare for a launch planned for Saturday of Facebook’s first satellite out of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which is next to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The social media giant’s space mission is the latest part of its effort to provide internet connectivity to remote areas of the world. “
Judging by Mark Zuckerberg’s post, the satellite was meant to bring internet service to some of the remote areas of the world as part of Facebook’s internet.org program. The solar powered Aquila drone program which was announced in July will in the meantime still go ahead and fulfill its mission to do the same thing. The destroyed satellite was worth about $200m/ 78b Naira
Back in April SpaceX successfully launched and landed a rocket on sea which was a breakthrough by itself which meant rockets could be reused.