Drone-Satellite Hybrid Vehicle Called StratoBus Is a Multi-Functioning Beauty

Geo Beats
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A new French-based project envisions an autonomous airship in the shape of a blimp with satellite and communication capabilities that will monitor the globe from a fixed position approximately 13 miles up.

What if you could combine the best of drones and satellites?

A new French-based project envisions an autonomous airship in the shape of a blimp with satellite and communication capabilities that will monitor the globe from a fixed position approximately 13 miles up.

Called StratoBus, the hybrid vehicle proposal is being led by Thales Alenia Space, along with help from partners, Zodiac Marine, Airbus Defence & Space and CEA-Liten.

Equipped with a power generation system and reversible fuel cell for energy storage, the drone satellite hybrid is capable of sailing to the lower stratosphere.

From there, it will be in the optimal location for numerous duties including surveillance, aiding navigation and border security monitoring. The air position allows the StratoBus to sit above both jet streams and air traffic.

However it will sit much lower than traditional satellites, which means the communications systems will be stronger and the images are expected to be much clearer.

The vehicle will remain in a stationary position thanks to a set of electric motors that self adjust. The outer components of the vehicle are derived of carbon fiber, making it very lightweight but strong enough to hold 450 pounds.

The StratoBus, which is comparable in length to a football field, has a lifetime of five years and will be able to take on year long missions easily. The developers aim to have a prototype available within 5 years.

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