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SpaceX Rocket Launches Facebook Satellite into Orbit

Sep 01, 2016 06:34 AM EDT
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SpaceX will launch a rocket carrying a Facebook-commissioned satellite to space.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will blast off on Sept. 3 from Cape Canaveral, carrying Facebook's first satellite, which is part of the company's plan to beam Internet access to poorly connected areas in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Amos 6 communications satellite is a joint project between the social media behemoth and French satellite operator Eutelsat. A representative from Eutelsat confirmed the launch in a tweet, saying that the satellite will enable a "powerful new broadband platform for Eutelsat and #Facebook Africa."

While Facebook representatives declined to comment on the project, they said that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had announced the company's plan to work with Eutelast for the satellite in a post last October.

"We're going to work with local partners across these regions to help communities begin accessing Internet services provided through satellite," Zuckerberg wrote.

"This is just one of the innovations we're working on to achieve our mission with internet.org. Connectivity changes lives and communities. We're going to keep working to connect the entire world -- even if that means looking beyond our planet."

In August 2013, Zuckerberg launched internet.org, which is a joint initiative with different tech companies that aim to offer free internet connectivity to people all over the world, especially the far-reaching communities. Facebook paid $95 million to lease the satellite's supply of broadband-capable spot beams for five years, Orlando Sentinel reports. Through these beams, Internet services will be made available to 14 African countries.

As for SpaceX, the satellite launch is another opportunity for the company to land a rocket, as it aggressively works toward its goal of sending a spacecraft to Mars. The satellite, which was made by Israel's Spacecom (Space-Communication Ltd), will launch aboard the two-stage rocket Falcon 9.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the satellite will take 11 days from launch to reach its intended geostationary orbit. If tests are successful, the satellite will replace an older model that is now in the same orbit.

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