In 2018, Facebook made the Athena project known to the world, with the aim of placing a set of satellites in orbit to guarantee broadband access through the world's low coverage regions. After two years of delays and setbacks, documents registered with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) demonstrate that the company led by Mark Zuckerberg can join SpaceX and OneWeb on a mission to bring the Internet to the four corners of the world.
As indicated by the documents registered by lawyers from PointView, the company behind the development of the first satellite in the constellation, Facebook has been preparing for a launch soon. The record shows that the company is applying for a license to be able to have more ground stations in Norway and Antarctica that are able to communicate with satellite Athena.
The delay in the official start of the project may be related to problems with Vega, the French Arianespace rocket that will take the Facebook satellite to Espao. To date, there are no total certainties about the launch date of Athena, however, an Arianespace spokesman confirmed to the international press that Vega will return to space operations this year, and that it will be able to take off in March.
Recall that the Athena project is the successor to Aquila, a solar drone whose mission was to bring the Internet to the most remote areas of the planet. The inaugural flight of the manned aircraft took place in 2016 and took 1 hour and 36 minutes. Although Facebook ended the project's hardware work, Facebook retained the teams that were dedicated to software development.