Facebook’s Internet Drone Exploded, According To US Investigations

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Aquila, Facebook’s internet-supplying drone, crashed during its first test flight June 28 in Arizona, and a U.S. safety department is now investigating the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovered that the wreck occurred during the landing process due to a “structural failure,” according to Bloomberg.

The company still considers the experimentation of the solar-powered aerial vehicle a major feat.

“We were happy with the successful first test flight and were able to verify several performance models and components including aerodynamics, batteries, control systems and crew training, with no major unexpected results,” Facebook told Bloomberg.

The rollout of the unmanned aircraft is part of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s wider plan to make Internet accessible to other areas of the world, whether remote or underdeveloped.

“I’m excited to announce our first project to deliver internet from space. As part of our efforts to connect the world, we’re partnering with Eutelsat to launch a satellite into orbit that will connect millions of people,” Zuckerberg wrote in October 2015 on Facebook.

That satellite, called AMOS-6, was destroyed when Elon Musks’s SpaceX rocket exploded upon liftoff at a Cape Canaveral launch pad.

“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,” Zuckerberg said on his Facebook page. “Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well.”

With the latest report from the NTSB, Aquila itself may no longer be able to connect people. The technology could have been tested enough to have helped Zuckerberg’s Internet proliferation initiative.

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