Internet-less African towns will have to wait for their internet connections a little longer. A satellite belonging to Facebook - for the purposes of supplying the internet to sub-Saharan Africa - was destroyed by an exploding SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Thursday. There were no injuries reported, however, there were reports of the ground rumbling in areas miles away from the blast site. The estimated losses were said to be $200 million.
Those looking for answers as to what caused the explosion anxiously waited to hear from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. He tweeted:
Loss of Falcon vehicle today during propellant fill operation. Originated around upper stage oxygen tank. Cause still unknown. More soon.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 1, 2016
CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, who, at the time, had made his way from Nigeria and into Kenya on business, took to his platform to express his dismay. He said:
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.
Zuckerberg, of course, talking about their solar powered, internet-via-drone project that Facebook's engineers have been testing earlier this year.
The explosion comes at the wrong time for SpaceX. After a host of unsuccessful rocket landings, they finally started to get things right with their Falcon 9. The engineers successfully managed to land the Falcon 9 on a barge in the sea after launching, twice. However, in June 2015, a rocket meant to deliver supplies to the International Space Station also went up in flames. Then, yesterday's explosion occurs and adds to the growing list of embarrassing mishaps SpaceX has been seeing.
SpaceX has also announced that it will work with NASA to perform an unmanned mission to Mars by 2018. Stephanie Martin, the spokeswoman for the Kennedy Space Center, unfortunately, had to talk about what effects this blast would have on the future Mars missions. She said: "It is too early to know what impacts there would be (with the manned flights) and it would be inappropriate to speculate at this time. NASA remains confident in its commercial partners, including SpaceX."
The engineers from SpaceX confirmed that the incident took place at Launch Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, and will now ground any further projects until they know what caused the explosion for sure. They reportedly had another launch planned for Saturday, but that will reportedly not go forward until engineers can say what really caused the Falcon 9's explosion.