Facebook officials said Thursday they plan to begin testing flights for a solar-powered drone designed to provide Internet access for remote parts of the world. A Britain-based team of engineers has spent the last 14 months building the unmanned drone, known as Aquila, with a 140-foot wingspan that weighs 880 pounds. The drone is designed to fly at high altitudes for as long as three months and would use lasers to beam data to stations on the ground. The aim is to launch hundreds of drones using helium balloons to sit at altitudes of 60,000 to 90,000 feet, which supplemental satellites orbiting above them. Facebook said in-flight tests would likely begin in the U.S.
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