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Facebook's Aquila Airplane Completes First Test Flight

By Red Media Africa
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Facebook has successfully carried out the first test flight of Aquila, an unmanned solar powered airplane to bring affordable internet to millions of people in remote communities.

When complete, Aquila will be able to circle a region up to 60 miles in diameter, beaming internet connectivity down from an altitude of more than 60,000 feet using laser communications and millimetre wave systems. Aquila is designed to fly for up to three months at a time.

The aircraft has the wingspan of an airplane, but at cruising speed it will consume only 5,000 watts, the same amount as three hair dryers, or a high-end microwave. Facebook has flown a 1/5th-scale version of Aquila for several months, but this was the first flight of the full-scale aircraft.

This test flight was designed to verify the operational models and overall aircraft design. To prove out the full capacity of the design, Facebook will push Aquila to the limits in a lengthy series of tests in the coming months and years.

This milestone is as a result of accelerated efforts to bring internet connectivity to the four billion people around the world who are not yet online, and also with the goal of contributing to prosperity, progress and development around the globe.

Internet access can offer life-changing opportunities, information, and experiences, but 1.6 billion people today live in remote locations with no access to mobile broadband networks. Facebook is building new technologies like Aquila to help address this challenge.

Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and with its growing team of aerospace, optical physics, RF communications and other world experts, and existing relationships with the technology community, telecommunication companies, governments, and communities that use Facebook, the company is uniquely positioned to do this work.

To date, Facebook’s connectivity efforts, which include initiatives like Free Basics, are estimated to have brought more than 25 million people online who wouldn’t be otherwise.

About Facebook
Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what is going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them. Facebook has 1.04 billion daily active users on average worldwide and 7.2 million daily visitors from Nigeria.

About Red Media Africa
Red Media Africa ( http://www.redmediaafrica.com ) is the PR & Empowerment Marketing division under the parent brand, RED. It focuses on using inspiration, empowerment and action to help brands and organisations connect with their audiences, enhance their bottom-lines and lead in their industries. It has 6 major practice areas: Corporate Practice, Technology Practice, SME Practice, Governance Practice, Faith Practice and the International Practice - with work for brands across Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. RED owns the continent's largest portfolio of youth media brands. Its Content Division holds brands across TV, radio, online and events including Y! Magazine,YNaija.com, Rubbin' Minds, #YTech100 and the The RED Summit. It also anchors a development firm, The Future Project, which projects include Africa's leading youth platform, The Future Awards Africa, HowCanIGetInvolved.com and Aiki.ng, which is run in conjunction with Microsoft.‎