The unmanned Solara 50 fell to the ground shortly after takeoff on May 1 and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is investigating, Keith Holloway, an agency spokesman, said in an interview. The accident occurred at a private airstrip east of Albuquerque and no one was injured, he said.
The crash is a setback for Google’s high-altitude vision of how to bring Internet access to areas of the world without sufficient infrastructure on the ground. Titan Aerospace, the company Google bought last year for undisclosed terms, built the drone, which its promotional material says has a wingspan of 50 meters (164 feet). It is supposed to fly above the weather, where it could then beam Internet signals to earth as if it was a satellite.