Airbus has solar powered stratosphere drone that has flown for nearly 26 days

An unmanned Airbus drone aircraft, a 75 kilogram Zephyr, flew for almost 26 days. It will offer local satellite-like services and runs on solar power. It flies in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000 feet and has a wingspan of 25 meters.

Zephyr is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) that fills a capability gap between satellites and UAVs.

Airbus has two variants of the Zephyr, designed to accommodate a variety of payloads.

The production model Zephyr S has a wingspan of 25m and weighs less than 75kg. It is able to carry see, sense and connect payloads.

Currently in development, the larger Zephyr T has a wingspan of 33m and weighs 140kg. It’s a larger size enables it to accommodate payloads with larger masses

30 thoughts on “Airbus has solar powered stratosphere drone that has flown for nearly 26 days”

  1. Cool. A poor man’s satellite. Will these planes even show up on radar? Imagine an “aircraft” designed to be so nebulous that you couldn’t hit it with a missile because it would pass right through it but still be able to lift a communications/observation package. You would have to use an area effect weapon (MOAB) to kill one.

    Reply
  2. Cool. A poor man’s satellite. Will these planes even show up on radar? Imagine an aircraft”” designed to be so nebulous that you couldn’t hit it with a missile because it would pass right through it but still be able to lift a communications/observation package. You would have to use an area effect weapon (MOAB) to kill one.”””

    Reply
  3. What is the PV area? 20m^2? Maybe 5kw? Does it need that much propulsion to loiter?How much does a 60kwh battery weigh? More than 75kg? Without any details provided it sounds like a pretty remarkable drone. Getting it to altitude must be a biotch.

    Reply
  4. What is the PV area? 20m^2? Maybe 5kw? Does it need that much propulsion to loiter?How much does a 60kwh battery weigh? More than 75kg? Without any details provided it sounds like a pretty remarkable drone. Getting it to altitude must be a biotch.

    Reply
  5. Assume it´s another use, operating drones from containers in Nevada desert is expensive and is U.S technology…and being so, unreliable. Europe is doing it with a wider scope, vigilance,communications,internet, multi role and inexpensive.

    Reply
  6. Assume it´s another use operating drones from containers in Nevada desert is expensive and is U.S technology…and being so unreliable.Europe is doing it with a wider scope vigilancecommunicationsinternet multi role and inexpensive.”

    Reply
  7. I also don’t understand why isn’t there a huge for a technology like this.Would be much cheaper than having someone launch a satellite in a huge rocket. Drones like this would fly into position themselves.

    Reply
  8. Interesting. Though I can’t help but think that a helicopter would be better. If memory serves a high aspect-ratio wing is most efficient for hovering (which means a helicopter’s rotor). Plus the solar panels could (should) be separate from the airfoil. Which could be hung from a cable (with the batteries for extra stability) and would have solar tracking, a further efficiency gain.

    Reply
  9. I also don’t understand why isn’t there a huge for a technology like this.Would be much cheaper than having someone launch a satellite in a huge rocket. Drones like this would fly into position themselves.

    Reply
  10. Interesting.Though I can’t help but think that a helicopter would be better. If memory serves a high aspect-ratio wing is most efficient for hovering (which means a helicopter’s rotor).Plus the solar panels could (should) be separate from the airfoil. Which could be hung from a cable (with the batteries for extra stability) and would have solar tracking a further efficiency gain.

    Reply
  11. An missile would go of then hitting and this is an very slow moving target, all relevant missiles also has proximity fuses. But yes it would be easy to make stealthy and its small. You also need an pretty large SAM to hit something 20 km up, think it require an SAM system not just one truck. And as this looks cheap as in 125 kg you can easy use many.

    Reply
  12. Helicopters uses a lot more power to stay in the air than planes. Their only benefit is that they don’t need an runway and can hover. None is needed here. An solar powered plane can also glide part of the night, reducing the battery size.

    Reply
  13. An missile would go of then hitting and this is an very slow moving target all relevant missiles also has proximity fuses. But yes it would be easy to make stealthy and its small. You also need an pretty large SAM to hit something 20 km up think it require an SAM system not just one truck. And as this looks cheap as in 125 kg you can easy use many.

    Reply
  14. Helicopters uses a lot more power to stay in the air than planes. Their only benefit is that they don’t need an runway and can hover. None is needed here. An solar powered plane can also glide part of the night reducing the battery size.

    Reply
  15. Not necessarily. It depends on the proportions of the wings/rotors. Common helicopters are burdened by practicality and the need to provide both lift and movement. These wouldn’t effect stratospheric helicopters. They wouldn’t need to move and really long rotors won’t chop up trees or people. Imagine the rotors being of similar length and aspect ratio as the wings on these drone planes. “An solar powered plane can also glide part of the night, reducing the battery size.” I don’t know what you mean. They can’t just glide, they’d just loose altitude. Probably faster than a helicopter designed for that height. If you mean soaring, I’m quite sure that doesn’t come into play at those heights. (And would effect both the same anyway.)

    Reply
  16. Not necessarily. It depends on the proportions of the wings/rotors. Common helicopters are burdened by practicality and the need to provide both lift and movement. These wouldn’t effect stratospheric helicopters. They wouldn’t need to move and really long rotors won’t chop up trees or people.Imagine the rotors being of similar length and aspect ratio as the wings on these drone planes.An solar powered plane can also glide part of the night” reducing the battery size.””I don’t know what you mean. They can’t just glide”” they’d just loose altitude. Probably faster than a helicopter designed for that height. If you mean soaring”” I’m quite sure that doesn’t come into play at those heights. (And would effect both the same anyway.)”””

    Reply
  17. Not necessarily. It depends on the proportions of the wings/rotors. Common helicopters are burdened by practicality and the need to provide both lift and movement. These wouldn’t effect stratospheric helicopters. They wouldn’t need to move and really long rotors won’t chop up trees or people.
    Imagine the rotors being of similar length and aspect ratio as the wings on these drone planes.

    “An solar powered plane can also glide part of the night, reducing the battery size.”

    I don’t know what you mean. They can’t just glide, they’d just loose altitude. Probably faster than a helicopter designed for that height. If you mean soaring, I’m quite sure that doesn’t come into play at those heights. (And would effect both the same anyway.)

    Reply
  18. An missile would go of then hitting and this is an very slow moving target, all relevant missiles also has proximity fuses. But yes it would be easy to make stealthy and its small.
    You also need an pretty large SAM to hit something 20 km up, think it require an SAM system not just one truck.
    And as this looks cheap as in 125 kg you can easy use many.

    Reply
  19. Helicopters uses a lot more power to stay in the air than planes. Their only benefit is that they don’t need an runway and can hover. None is needed here.
    An solar powered plane can also glide part of the night, reducing the battery size.

    Reply
  20. I also don’t understand why isn’t there a huge for a technology like this.Would be much cheaper than having someone launch a satellite in a huge rocket. Drones like this would fly into position themselves.

    Reply
  21. Interesting.
    Though I can’t help but think that a helicopter would be better. If memory serves a high aspect-ratio wing is most efficient for hovering (which means a helicopter’s rotor).

    Plus the solar panels could (should) be separate from the airfoil. Which could be hung from a cable (with the batteries for extra stability) and would have solar tracking, a further efficiency gain.

    Reply
  22. Assume it´s another use, operating drones from containers in Nevada desert is expensive and is U.S technology…and being so, unreliable.
    Europe is doing it with a wider scope, vigilance,communications,internet, multi role and inexpensive.

    Reply
  23. What is the PV area? 20m^2? Maybe 5kw? Does it need that much propulsion to loiter?How much does a 60kwh battery weigh? More than 75kg? Without any details provided it sounds like a pretty remarkable drone. Getting it to altitude must be a biotch.

    Reply
  24. Cool. A poor man’s satellite. Will these planes even show up on radar?

    Imagine an “aircraft” designed to be so nebulous that you couldn’t hit it with a missile because it would pass right through it but still be able to lift a communications/observation package. You would have to use an area effect weapon (MOAB) to kill one.

    Reply

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