After rocket explosion, Facebook, SpaceX picking up the pieces
New York: Tech giant Facebook incurred a loss of $200 million when the Falcon 9 rocket carrying SpaceX communication satellite AMOS-6 exploded in Cape Canaveral during tests, while SpaceX has begun a full probe into the explosion, media reports said.
The AMOS-6, which was the result of a collaboration between Facebook and French satellite-maker Eutelsat, was to provide free broadband to at least 14 countries on the African continent and Middle East.
According to Dailymail, CEO of US-based Aerospace company SpaceX Elon Musk also lost about $390 million as the stock prices of two of his companies — Tesla and SolarCity — dropped after the accident on Thursday morning.
Shares in Elon Musk’s electric car maker Tesla dropped 5.3 per cent and his SolarCity venture was also down 9.1 per cent.
The mishap was also a setback for NASA, which has been counting on the private company to keep the International Space Station stocked with supplies and, ultimately, astronauts.
SpaceX said Friday evening that its number one priority after Thursday’s accident at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station “is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, as well as to take all the necessary steps to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for future crewed missions with the Falcon 9.”
The company said it has begun a full investigation of the explosion and that SpaceX’s “Accident Investigation Team,” along with oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration and assistance from NASA and the US Air Force, is in the “early” stages of reviewing 3,000 channels of telemetry and video data covering a brief time period of 35 to 55 milliseconds, reported Arstechnica.com.
The statement from SpaceX provided no additional information about the cause of the accident. It only repeated that the incident occurred during fueling of the launch vehicle before a static fire test, rather than during the test itself, and that the “anomaly” originated around the upper stage liquid oxygen tank.
At the time of the incident, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in Africa making new “Friends”, CNN said.
In a note, Zuckerberg expressed his disappointment but also promised to come back stronger to fulfil his mission to “connect everyone”.
Apart from a $200 million satellite, the company also lost precious time to build this dream.
“It was a big, complicated satellite. It takes hundreds of people at least two years to build,” The Wall Street Journal quoted Tim Farrar, the president of telecom consulting firm TMF Associates as saying.
While other tech giants like Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has already launched and tested balloons that fly 60,000 feet in the air and beam internet connectivity to the areas below, Facebook will have to wait for more years to build a new AMOS-6 to perfect new long-distance and wireless internet technology.
With that being said, all is not gloomy for Facebook. The company has already successfully tested its solar-powered drone which is to beam free internet for nearly four billion people.
Social media giant Facebook last month announced the first full-scale test flight of its Aquila solar-powered high-altitude unmanned aircraft.
The drone will beam broadband across areas about 60 miles wide and stay in the air for up to 90 days at a time.
Aquila has the wingspan of an airliner, but at cruising speed it will consume only 5,000 watts – the same amount as three hair dryers or a high-end microwave.
In April, the social networking giant Facebook unveiled two initiatives to improve internet services for the rural population in the developing countries, including India.
Announcing at its two-day annual F8 conference in San Francisco, US, Facebook said the Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum (ARIES) system would boost speed, efficiency and quality of internet connectivity in remote areas in the developing countries.
Facebook said the ARIES would demonstrate a 10x spectral and energy efficiency gain over typical 4G.
Facebook also launched Terragraph — a 60GHz wireless system aimed at bringing high-speed internet to dense urban areas around the globe.