Facebook's Internet.org Plans Set Back by SpaceX Launch Pad Accident

A fire meant the loss of the Falcon 9 and the AMOS-6 satellite September 6, 2016

CAPE CANAVERAL— It was all over the news on Sept. 1: During the static fire test of (what would have been) Flight 29 of a SpaceX Falcon 9 to geosynchronous transfer orbit on Sept. 3, there was an anomaly on the launch pad, resulting in a fire and the loss of the vehicle and the AMOS-6 satellite. You likely saw the video of the explosionalready. It was pretty spectacular and seemed rather odd, considering all the recent successes of SpaceX.

According to its Wikipedia entry, Amos-6 was a 5.5-ton Earth communications satellite, one of the SpacecomAMOS series, that was built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), a defense and aerospace company.[6]

In October of 2015, Facebook and satellite fleet operator Eutelsat agreed to pay $95 million over about five years to lease the Ka-band spot-beam broadband capacity — 36 regional spot-beams with a throughput of about 18 Gbit/s — on Amos-6 to provide service for Facebook’s Internet.org and a new Eutelsat subsidiary focusing on African businesses.After a technical analysis, including an assessment of customer power requirements, Facebook and Eutelsat concluded that only 18 out of the 36 Ka-band spot beams could be used simultaneously without sacrificing user experience.

The head of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, had traveled to Kenya to be there for the arrival in orbit of the satellite. He made an entry on Facebook after hearing of the destruction of AMOS-6.

“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.

“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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from Department of Private Space Inc.