Satellite carrying drone

They built the largest autonomous drone in the world. For now, it will serve space exploration: it will help launch satellites into orbit around the Earth.

An American startup, Aevum, has built the world’s largest drone. The drone, 24.5 meters long and 5.5 meters high, has a wingspan of 18.3 meters and a total weight of 25 tons. It is no coincidence that the Ravn X is of such an impressive size: its job is to help launch satellites into orbit around the Earth.

No rocket launcher required

One of the big money-eaters in space exploration is the launch of satellites and astronauts into space. It is therefore understandable that one of the most popular areas for development is the manufacture of transport equipment that can be brought back to the ground and recycled. One such missile is being developed by Elon Musk’s startup, Space X, and that’s why NASA used to try space shuttles in the past (the Soviet Union also built its own spacecraft, the Burant, but its development was stopped before it could enter space).

Ravn X is an intermediate solution for launching satellites into the Low Earth Orbit (LEO), about 2,000 km from Earth. A mission takes approx. It takes 3 hours and after that the drone is ready for the next start. The special drone has several advantages: above all, the fact that it can take off from the runway of any traditional civilian airport, a one and a half kilometer long strip of concrete with sufficient load capacity is sufficient. It uses the same fuel for its engines as conventional jet engines.

Once it has reached the right height, it launches the attached two-stage launchers that deliver the payload to its final height. And after landing, Ravn X can take the next missile. In one way approx. A payload of 100 kg can be set on the track.

The U.S. Space Force has already slammed the promising opportunity last year. If all goes according to plan, Ravn Xs will put LEO’s small satellites in orbit from the third quarter of 2021. The budget for the government contract, by the way, is $ 1 billion. This contract is a huge success for the Alabama startup, as other startups that started earlier at Aevum and have a strong capital background are also trying this, such as Virgin Orbit. The latter company, backed by Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, who is as inexhaustible from crazy ideas as Elon Musk, had an unsuccessful attempt in the spring to launch a launcher from an aircraft.

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