SOLAR-POWERED DRONES

Titan Aerospace operates out of New Mexico. This startup company recently unveiled prototypes for “atmospheric satellites”. These ‘un-manned drones’ are powered purely by solar energy and are expected to stay in the air for up to five years, flying at 60 – 90,000 feet with a thousand-pound payload.

1

The Solara 50 (their first long-endurance solar drone) is under construction now and is expected to take to the air next year. (with the Solara 60 soon to follow).

2

The Solara 50 has a 50 metre wingspan and its high-efficiency motor is powered by 3,000 photovoltaic cells generating seven kilowatts. It is launched by catapult and lands on its Kevlar-coated underside. The beauty of the idea is that it will be able to perform many of the tasks normally completed by satellites but at much lower costs.

3

d3

The goal here is communication. A “constellation” of  drones could fly over a region to create a communication network for disaster (see Google’s planned air-based broadband in areas with  no telecommunications infrastructure of their own!).

d4

 If successful, Titan could free our dependence on low-orbit satellites and the energy and fuel required to get and keep them there. Through solar power, a drone can stay aloft indefinitely.

Posted by Alvaro