Facebook’s Aquila takes


After revealing that it wants to use unmanned drone airships to beam the internet down to the estimated four billion people worldwide without it two years ago, social media giant Facebook on Thursday announced the first full-scale test flight of its solar-powered craft Aquila.“After two years of engineering, I’m proud to announce the successful first flight of Aquila — the solar-powered plane we designed to beam internet to remote parts of the world,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a post.Zuckerberg added, “On June 28th, we completed the first successful flight of Aquila — our solar-powered plane that will beam internet to remote parts of the world and eventually break the record for longest unmanned aircraft flight.”According to the post, the flight took place before dawn in Yuma, Arizona. Facebook’s original mission was to fly Aquila for 30 minutes, but things went quite well for the company and it decided to keep the plane up for 96 minutes.We gathered lots of data about our models and the aircraft structure — and after two years of development, it was emotional to see Aquila actually get off the ground, Mr. Zuckerberg notedHe said that, “Our goal is to have a fleet of Aquilas flying together at 60,000 feet, communicating with each other with lasers and staying aloft for months at a time — something that’s never been done before.”The company is working on to make the aircraft more efficient and doing necessary changes in that direction…“Over the next year we’re going to keep testing Aquila — flying higher and longer, and adding more planes and payloads. It’s all part of our mission to connect the world and help more of the 4 billion people who are not online access all the opportunities of the internet, Mr. Zuckerberg concluded.

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