Zephyr Solar-Electric Stratospheric Drone

Drone aircraft able to remain aloft in the stratosphere for months or years at a time are under development.


(Successful December, 2018 flight of Zephyr)

Subsidiaries of Airbus SE, Boeing Co., and Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank Group Corp. are developing stratospheric drones, which could fly unaided for months and take pictures or beam down internet services some 60,000 feet or more to the ground. They are betting the technology could create markets with military or commercial customers.

It hasnít been an easy start. A March flight of the Zephyr S drone from Airbus, which is using an airfield in northern Australia as its first stratospheric port, was cut short after the drone encountered bad weather as it ascended through lower parts of the atmosphere. The aircraft, which resembles a glider, was destroyed, a spokesman for Australiaís aviation regulator said. Airbus plans another test flight for later this year.

One challenge is designing a drone that is lightweight, but has relatively long wings, so that it can generate sufficient lift while flying slowly in the thin stratospheric air. Regulators must also be convinced the aircraft are safe before possibly hundreds take to the skies.

I was reminded of the stratovideo television plane from the 1950 short story The Morning of the Day They Did It by E.B. White:

...after much experimentation by the Westinghouse and the Glenn Martin people a satisfactory substitute was found in the high-flying planes. A few of these planes, spotted around the country, handled the whole television load nicely. Known as Stratovideo planes, they were equipped with studios; many programs originated in the air and were transmitted directly, others beamed from the aircraft to ground stations and then relayed. The planes flew continuously, twenty-four hours a day, were refuelled in air, and dropped down to ten thousand feet every eight hours to meet the Contact planes and take on a new shift of workers.

I should also mention the solar-powered aircraft from John W. Campbell's 1930 story The Black Star Passes, which is the earliest sfnal reference that I know about to a heavier-than-air solar-powered aircraft.

From Isegoria.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/9/2019)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Surveillance ")

Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.' - Greg Bear, 2003

Portsmouth, OH Residents Don't All Favor Drone Surveillance
'...a kid bounced a missile off a golden ball.' - Larry Niven, 1972.

Airport Security Now Using Predator-Style Heat Vision Helmets
'Want some candy?'

'Alexa For Residential' A Landlord's Dream (Tenant's Nightmare?)
'...unseen mechanical entities... that are in our very midst. One of them following each of us.' - Philip K. Dick, 1960.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

SpaceX Requests Starlink For Starship
'... sweating, heat-blistered engineers at every interplanetary radiograph station on three planets.'

SF Writers Predicted John Deere Autonomous Tractors
'The huge plow... seemed to shake itself - and began to move back southward.'

DARPA Funding AI Fighter Pilots
'Cultured brains on a slab.'

StoryFile To Help William Shatner Become Landru
"I am Landru. I am he! All that he was, I am."

Telehealth Drones To The Rescue
'A shadow passed over him, and he looked up.'

Capture Asteroids In A Bag
'... just as a small boy catches a swift ball in his cap.'

Sony Pocket Air Conditioner Is Phil Dick's Idea!
'... he went to the hall closet to get his pith helmet and his mandatory cooling-unit.'

Is It Possible To GROW Planes And Vehicles?
'These are your rudimentary seed packages...'

Guard Dog Robot Security Check
'We still use people at the main gates, but here it's an automated sentry.'

Sheepskin Parchment Helped Medieval Lawyers Prevent Fraud
'The single sheet he held, and even the words and signatures upon it, were all integral parts of a single giant molecule...'

Space 'Hurricane' Has Been Seen
'... it was the biggest of the four hundred odd storms raging in the Fifty Suns region.'

PR2 Fencing Robot Perfect For Kwisatz Haderach-in-training
'Now, we'll work on your timing. Let me see you catch that thing sinister.'

Sole Morphing Astronaut Boots - A New Pair Of Moon Boots?
'Itís an ideal device for kangarooing along in lunar gravity.'

Mice Gestate In Mechanical Womb
'... in the Decanting Room, the newly-unbottled babes uttered their first yell of horror and amazement.'

3rd Century BC Gold Bee Is Just The Start
Bees knees, I order you to freeze!

Worlds With Underground Oceans More Conducive To Life
'There is life on Europa.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.