A private rocket-dispatch startup uncovered its completely autonomous drone designed to drop a rocket in midair that shoots little satellites into space without a launchpad.
Alabama-based company Aevum revealed its Ravn X Autonomous Launch Vehicle at the Cecil SpacePort dispatch office in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday.
The 80-foot airplane has a wingspan of 60 feet, stands 18 feet tall and is the world’s biggest Unmanned Aircraft (UAS) by mass, weighing 55,000 pounds.
The totally autonomous aircraft is 70% reusable with plans to be up to 95 percent reusable later on. The specialty flies simply like a common plane and can dispatch from any one-mile runway, getting rid of the costly infrastructure that accompanies a launchpad.
When the Ravn X arrives at the correct area and altitude, it drops a rocket that dispatches a payload of around 220 pounds into low-Earth circle. In the wake of conveying the payload, the airplane grounds and stops itself in a holder.
The company says the airplane is intended to place satellites into space as quick as every 180 minutes.
“U.S. leadership has identified the critical need for extremely fast access to low Earth orbit,” Jay Skylus, author and CEO of Aevum, said in an statement.
“Through our autonomous technologies, Aevum will shorten the lead time of launches from years to months, and when our customers demand it, minutes. This is necessary to improve lives on Earth. This is necessary to save lives,” he said.
The company has been awarded more than $1 billion in government contracts. The Space Force contracted Aevum to do its first little satellite mission, ASLON-45. The mission will improve “real-time threat warnings,” as indicated by the office.