The large drone — named Aquila — had a successful test flight and ended up remaining in the sky for 90 minutes, which Facebook said was three-times longer than planned.
Aquila was announced at the F8 conference in March 2015, and although flights have happened on smaller models of the drone this is the first test of the full-sized version. Its main purpose, the company said, is to provide internet to the 4 billion people in the world that don’t have access.
The drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 737 and the finished product will need to fly at altitudes of between 60,000 to 90,000 for a period of three months.
Although it is large and expected to remain in flight for that amount of time, the unmanned device is expected to only consume the same amount of energy as a hairdryer or a microwave.
“Aquila is a solar-powered airplane that can be used to bring affordable internet to hundreds of millions of people in the hardest-to-reach places.
Aquila is a key part of Facebook‘s far-ranging plan to bring the whole world online through Internet.org. In blog post Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg laid out his vision for how the company’s solar-powered drone could eventually turn that vision into a reality.
“Eventually, 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,” Zuckerberg wrote.