Airbus's Zephyr Proves its Capabilities as a Satellite

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Airbus Zephyr Solar High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (S Haps) is the world's leading solar-electric, stratospheric umanned aerial vehicle which was powered by the sun managed to stay airborne for a total period of 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes / Photo by JHEVPhoto via Shutterstock.com

 

One of the newest production craft being tested, the Airbus Zephyr Solar High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (S Haps) managed to stay airborne for a total period of 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes, according to a report posted on electronicsweekly.com.

Airbus said this first flight of the Zephyr S, which was powered by the sun, was a great proof of the craft’s capabilities. They said it also fulfilled all the flight’s engineering objectives. Zephyr is the world’s leading, solar-electric, stratospheric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The UAV, added the company, used the sun’s ray for its power needs as it flew over the usual air and weather traffic. This, they said, will support manned aircraft, satellites, and UAVs and deliver consistent satellite-like services in the locality.

The original builder of the Zephyr was the UK defense company known as Qinetiq until Airbus took over. The main objective of this craft is providing satellite-like services one day while also being as flexible as an unmanned drone.

The current iteration of the Zephyr weighs 75 kg and is able to carry more a payload that’s five times heavier. It can achieve a maximum altitude of 70,000 ft but its control remains on the ground.

One of its main features is its ability to collect high-resolution images, provide voice communications, and beam internet services to far remote areas.

Airbus revealed that the Zephyr will bring new functionalities for military and commercial customers, as it is able to “see, sense, and connect.” This will prove particularly helpful in special circumstances such as keeping track of wildfires or oil spills. It is also capable of continuous surveillance, keeping tabs to an environmental landscape that keeps on changing. The company also expects to see the Zephyr as an effective tool for connecting the remotest places to the rest of the world.