Years Long Dream Explodes in Seconds

Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious goal to bring Internet connectivity through Facebook to millions in Sub-Saharan Africa went up in smoke on a launch pad in Florida today. AMOS-6, a satellite specially developed by Eutelsat for the purpose, was in a SpaceX rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station being prepared for a Saturday launch. As part of the standard pre-launch preparation process, the rocket’s engines were fired up, but something malfunctioned and the entire rocket and its payload, including Facebook’s satellite, went up in flames. The vehicle was unmanned, and there were no injuries suffered during the event.
Facebook has continuously sought ways to increase its traffic and global profile, and believes that bringing the Internet to those currently without access will significantly improve their lives. The California-based company has spent the last year actively exploring ways to expand Internet access to Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the last large areas without either widespread access or the means to economically deliver such access via ground-based infrastructure. AMOS-6 would have bypassed that need from its position in a geostationary orbit, where it could have directly transmitted and received Internet-based communications through ground antennas.
While Zuckerberg acknowledged his disappointment in the incident, he denied that it was a fatal blow to the plan and mentioned a technology known as Aquila, newly developed by Facebook, that might be able to achieve the same ultimate result. He was adamant that Facebook remained fully committed to this goal, and believes strongly in the opportunities that such connectivity can offer to the populations of developing countries who don’t presently enjoy full access. Zuckberg’s Comments on Explosion
Despite growing up before the Internet, many of us would have difficulty imagining life now without it. We survived, and the world even managed to advance for centuries – millennia – without it, but now we’ve grown dependent on it. Our culture and entertainment as well as economy rely on it, so those without are living in what is almost a completely different world. While Facebook certainly expects to reap profit from this venture, it still promises to be one of the most significant charitable acts of the 21st century, and if successful could dramatically transform millions of lives for the better.