Since we did the first story about the capabilities that Titan Aerospace offers — drones capable of flying for five years at 65,000 feet — we feel compelled to write about their reported purchase by Facebook.
That’s right: not SpaceX or Northrop Grumman or Orbital. Facebook. The story is being covered in the financial and tech press, with TechCrunch having broken the news. The start-up will reportedly be bought for $60 million (NOT billion) to help provide Internet access to Africa and other underserved locations.
TechCrunch says Titan “would start by building 11,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles,” specifically the Solara 60 model.
The Solara 60 is the largest plane they build. It can carry up to 250 pounds of payload, anything from signals intelligence gear or electro-optical sensors to communications equipment. Thanks to the better batteries and solar panels the aircraft can generate up to 100 watts of power at night. At last year’s AUVSI the company told me they had been in talks with the Intelligence Community. Could this Facebook purchase influence the IC’s interest in the Solara aircraft? It may provide them with more confidence in the system and would certainly reduce the plane’s unit costs. Beyond that, it’s awfully early to say.