Fiber optic cables are the gold standard of a good internet connection, but laying them can be expensive, and in some parts of the world, a physically daunting task. So in remote corners of the globe, people often connect to the internet instead via massive geostationary satellites. These school bus-size instruments are especially far away, producing significantly slower connections. A host of companies believe the better way to connect the estimated half of Earth’s population that’s still offline is to launch “constellations” of smaller satellites into low Earth orbit, around 100 to 1,250 miles above our planet.
According to emails obtained from the Federal Communications Commission in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by WIRED, and a confirmation from the company itself, Facebook is officially one of them.
The emails show that the social network wants to launch Athena, its very own internet satellite, in early 2019. The new device is designed