- Zephyr UAV, a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) from Airbus that can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet above ground in the earth’s stratosphere completely running on solar energy, has its first operational launch site in Australia
- Wyndham in Western Australia is where the launch site has been set up for this solar-electric stratospheric UAV
- Powered by solar cells from MicroLink Devices, Zephyr UAV targets military and commercial customers to work as a pseudo satellite
Wyndham town in the state of Western Australia has become home to the world’s first operational launch site for Zephyr, a solar-electric stratospheric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Running exclusively on solar power, Zephyr UAV fills a capability gap complimentary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide persistent local satellite like services, as it flies above the weather and conventional air traffic, explained Airbus Defence and Space.
The site at Wyndham with its largely unrestricted airspace and reliable weather, worked for it to be chosen as the launch site for this High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS). It can fly for months at a time due to its ability to operate as a satellite with flexibility of a UAV. The solar cells used for the aircraft come from American manufacturer MicroLink Devices; lithium ion batteries that allow it to fly during night time are provided by another American firm, Amprius Inc.
Powered solely with solar energy, Zephyr UAV is designed to fly at an average altitude of 70,000 feet in the stratosphere. The target audience are commercial and military customers who can use the vehicle to monitor the spread of wildfires or oil spills for instance. It can be controlled from ground control stations from anywhere in the world using Beyond Line Of Sight (BLOS) capabilities.
“The official opening of the Airbus Wyndham launch site in Western Australia, the world’s first operational HAPS site, marks the start of a new era for Zephyr. We are proud to see Australia become part of the Zephyr operational network. The site is our gateway to the stratosphere and will be the main flight base for Zephyr going forward,” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus.