In August 2021, the United States Navy entered into a partnership with a Spanish aerospace company called Skydweller. The target? Develop an unmanned aircraft (also called a Skydweller) capable of staying in the air for 90 days without landing, thanks to large solar panels on both wings. Since then, Skydweller has worked hard to raise money for its groundbreaking plane - did it make it?
Mission accomplished. And that's not the only novelty.
Today's news is that the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), in partnership with the United States Navy, has given Skydweller what it takes to continue. A $ 14 million contract and a task: to develop and integrate technologies for future vertical lift and perpetual flight aircraft.
Perpetual? Yes, I confirm. Indeed, Skydweller CEO Dr. Robert Miller confirms it.
Further development of the perpetual flight aircraft for the next generation detection and surveillance system is critical to national security. This collaboration will accelerate the advancement of our platform, while also demonstrating a viable, zero-emissions solution that significantly expands aircraft mission capabilities.
How significantly? "Skydweller will be able to develop military-grade unmanned aerial systems that can operate safely and effectively without landing for record periods of time," says Miller, "in a variety of environmental conditions."
A whole year in flight without landing
In yesterday's CNN interview, the data that emerges is surprising: Skydweller's solar plane could remain in the air for a whole year without landing. In summary: to act as the first "pseudo-satellite" in the world.
What is a pseudosatellite? Simple. It is a plane that stays in the sky, let's say, indefinitely. 30, 60, 90, 365 days without ever landing. And it can do everything a satellite does, even more: because a plane can return to Earth whenever its operators wish, and it has no problems with space debris.
The employment times? Lightning fast: Miller hopes to deliver Skydweller as early as 2023.
Yes, it would fly by itself without landing. And yes, it could do many good things for the environment, such as monitoring natural resources and improving the response to disasters: but we are betting on what its first use will be, "thanks" also to situation in Ukraine?