A rocket, scheduled to launch Saturday, 3rd September carrying a satellite designed to bring Internet to remote villages in Africa and help Facebook expand its global footprint burst into flames in Florida. 

The unmanned SpaceX rocket, topped by an Israeli satellite, was being prepped for a test firing Thursday September 1st morning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida when something went wrong. The 604-ton Falcon 9 rocket was being fueled with a potent mix of liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene propellant when an explosion quickly enveloped the launch pad in flames. The satellite and rocket were destroyed in several fiery explosions. The ensuing fireball delivered a blow to the efforts of  SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg, the Founder and CEO at Facebook was in Kenya at the time of this explosion and registered his disappointment through the social media.  On Thursday, while in Nairobi Mark had lunch with the Cabinet Secretary for Information and Communications Mr Joe Mucheru and ICT and Innovation Principal Secretary Eng Victor Kyalo at Mama Oliech Restaurant, in Hurlingham.  

“We talked about internet access and his ambitious plans for connecting everyone in Kenya. We ate at Mama Oliech Restaurant – a local place everyone recommended. One of my favorite parts of traveling to a new country is trying the food. I enjoyed ugali and a whole fried tilapia for the first time and loved them both!” Zuckerberg remarked on his Facebook page.

Facebook is currently working with the local telcos and data service providers toward making access to Facebook free to the consumers. This is geared toward increasing access to the platform.  The Amos-6 satellite sitting atop the SpaceX rocket was going to beam high-speed Internet and other digital services to sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe as part of an effort by Facebook to provide Internet access to poorly connected areas. 

LA Times reports indicate that the satellite’s manufacturer, Israel Aerospace Industries, took out an insurance policy on the Amos-6 worth $285 million – the same amount as the total value of the satellite.

 

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