Startup Aevum from Alabama (USA) presented on December 3 one of the world’s largest drones Ravn X, designed to launch small spacecraft into orbit.
The Ravn X combines a horizontal take-off and landing unmanned aircraft with a rocket that can be launched from high altitude and can deliver small payloads into space.
The Ravn X is 80 feet (24.4 m) long, 60 feet (18.3 m) wingspan and 18 feet (5.5 m) high. It is not the largest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in size. For example, the wings of Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton drone extend nearly 131 feet (39.9 m). But the Ravn X weighs in at 55,000 pounds (24.9 tonnes).
The Ravn X delivery system is capable of putting small satellites into orbit in just 180 minutes, with the ability to re-launch shortly thereafter. The drone uses conventional fuel, the same as commercial airliners, and can take off and land in almost any weather, according to founder and CEO Jay Skylus. It can also take off and land anywhere on a normal one mile (1.6 km) runway. This means that, in theory, Ravn X can use almost any operating airport in the world as a launch and landing pad.
One of the key differences between Aevum and other startups in the space launch industry is that Ravn X already has clients, including contracts with the US government worth over $ 1 billion. Its first mission is to launch the small satellite ASLON-45 for the Space Force. US slated for late 2021. There is also a 20 mission contract for nine years with the US Air Force Center for Space and Rocket Systems. According to Skylus, the startup has already begun supplying the serial Aevum to customers.
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