With a payload of just 500 kilograms, this fully autonomous vehicle can launch satellites into space every three hours, in a very short time compared to several months of rocket launch preparations.
US company Aevum on Wednesday unveiled the first model of the Ravn X, the world’s first drone launch satellite, capable of operating without the need for a pilot or launch pad.
What is the largest drone in the world is scheduled to launch the first launch of a satellite for the US Space Force in 2021.
The huge drone, 24 meters long and 18 meters wide, is fully autonomous, 70% multiple and can take off and land on runways less than one kilometer, reports the American “startup”, founded in cooperation with the US Air Force. ground.
If a bird and rocket had a baby, it could look something like RAVN-X, a new rocket-launched drone designed to send small satellites into orbit without a pilot or launch pad. https://t.co/oS9D5VpT39
– Science News (@NewsfromScience) December 3, 2020
Weighing in at approximately 25,000 kilograms, the aircraft uses the same fuel as any pilot aircraft and is capable of placing satellites weighing 100 to 500 kilograms in low orbit.
The plane can take off from any runway to reach a high altitude and then launch the second stage in space, which will carry its small payload and return to the runway. It is expected to be able to launch space charges every 180 minutes, said Iney Skylus, founder and CEO of Aevum, in his presentation.
“Other launch vehicles fly only a few times a year with an average waiting time of 18 months,” he said.
The Aevum project focuses on launching very small satellites into space in a short time. That multitude of satellites could increase access to “wireless internet everywhere,” Skylus said, noting the low operating costs of these launches.
The advantage of the Ravn X is their unmanned and fully autonomous nature, which makes their operation significantly cheaper.
“Ravnn takes off and lands horizontally on any standard runway. Ravn is designed to be autonomous from the moment it exits the hangar and moves along the runway, taking off, launching, landing and returning to the hangar,” explained Skylus, emphasizing that only a team of six is required to attend the flight from the country.
Aevum says its goal is to reach a price of several thousand dollars per kilogram of payload, similar to the cost of travel with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
However, the Ravn X could be an attractive solution for small companies, who would not be forced to wait for the SpaceX launch change and would also have control over the precise orbit they want, says Science.