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Friday, October 22, 2021


Zephyr S taking off - Airbus

Airbus has developed an unmanned drone for surveillance and communications. As you can see from the picture the thing is big, the wingspan is 92 feet. Thanks to modern materials it only weighs 150 pounds, and 50 of those are the battery pact. Yes, it's electric powered. 

Okay, that's all very cute, but what rates a mention here on this super exclusive blog is it's capabilities. It just completed two flights of 18 days each flying over Arizona at an altitude of 76,000 feet. That's U-2 territory.

The Perlan glider also reached an altitude of 76,000 feet, but they had to go to Argentina where they could catch a lift from the winds over the Andes mountains.

This drone looks to fill the same role as the balloons in Project Loon.


Matthew said...

These have got to be fairly fragile craft so I imagine they must have to be very very picky about the weather that they fly through. The winds in the troposphere can get pretty crazy and are rarely calm and I'm thinking that it takes quite a while to get through to the stratosphere where the winds are generally lower. I could not find any rate of climb data. Also the whole "pseudo-satellite" aspect implies that they will loiter over a particular area. Even in the relatively calm stratosphere that would mean fighting winds possibly over 100 mph. I don't believe for a second that this would fall within the capabilities of this drone. The thing is definitely really cool but there's just a bunch of stuff here that doesn't add up in my view.

Chuck Pergiel said...

I think you are right. They seem to be pressing ahead with this project, so someone thinks it will prove useful.