In 2015, Google’s solar-powered plane, the Solara 50, designed to provide free Internet access from the skies had met a terrible end when it crashed in New Mexico shortly after it took off. Details about the crash were sparse, however, leading many to question exactly what happened to the plane itself. Fast forward to today and the National Transportation Safety Board has revealed what resulted in the crash.
Shortly after the Solara 50 lifted off from a desert landing strip in New Mexico, Google’s aircraft suddenly experienced control problems. A remote pilot did attempt to take control of the Solara 50, but was unable to stabilize it. Afterwards, the aircraft hit a thermal updraft that sent it upward and increased its speed.
The Solara 50 was continuously being decimated as its right wing also failed after a section of the left wing came off of it. At 11:07 a.m., the aircraft then hit the ground and was destroyed after four minutes of flight. Bloomberg reported that no one was injured.
“Coincident with the significant wing deformation, the aircraft began an uncontrollable and erratic flight path roughly straight ahead in a rapid descent,” the NTSB detailed in its report. “The left outboard wing section separated from the aircraft during the first portion of the descent and the right outboard wing section separated later in the descent.”
The Solara 50 was created by Titan Aerospace, which is a company that is managed by former Microsoft executive Vern Raburn, and has been bought by Google last year. According to the company’s promotional material, the Solara 50’s wingspan measures 50 meters, and it is supposed to fly above the weather where it can send and provide Internet signals as if it was a satellite.
The project was supposedly designed to battle the social network giant in order to provide Internet access around the world. Facebook, on the other hand, acquired Acenta, a UK-based company that designs its drones.