Wonderful Engineering

Space Startup Unveils World’s Largest Drone Ravn X That Will Launch Satellites In Space

The idea of launching something to space makes us imagine a rocket blasting off from the pad vertically. This might change as we are seeing several companies shaking things up in space technology.

U.S based firm Aevum has marked its presence in this area and has revealed its massive drone, RavnX. It is designed to perform as an autonomous airborne launch system for small satellites.

Companies such as Rocket Lab, SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, and others have caused many space technology advancements. Now another company, Aevum, has launched a novel drone system that can carry payloads to space with high frequency.

The new and the largest-ever drone by Aevum, along with its high-frequency take-off, can also land on short runways. Although, if talking about its size, it requires 8,000 square feet of hangar space to rest.

The largest drone, Ravn X, is 80 feet in its length, has a wingspan (width) of 60 feet, and is 18 feet tall. It uses the same jet fuel used in a regular airplane. Its take-off doesn’t depend on weather conditions, as Aevum has stated that their drone Ravn X is weather agnostic.

70 percent of the aircraft is reusable, and Aevum is working towards taking that to a neat 100 percent in the future.

Another aircraft known as Stratolaunch is in its development stage and is said to have similarities with Aevun’s Ravn X; Virgin Orbit’s launch system is also created on the same design lines. All these drone systems aim to drop off the payload out in orbit in mid-air and return so that a full-fledged rocket launcher isn’t required to launch the satellites into outer space.

The difference between the rest of the novel launch systems and Ravn X is that the aforementioned launch systems require onboard pilots. However, amazingly, Ravn X works all autonomously. This decreases risk to human life, and hence safety isn’t an issue with this novel launch system. The company has stated that a complete fleet of Ravn X drones will be capable of dropping off payload mid-air in the space every 180 minutes.

Jay Skylus, founder and CEO of Aevum, said that the company is completely reimagining access to space. The outdated definition of rocket science doesn’t work for us, added the CEO. The company is using more automation technologies and hence is transforming space logistics at large.

Aevum may have just spent a lot on Ravn X autonomous launch system but told to have already earned more than US$1 billion in new launch contracts. One of the launch orders is from the US Space Force, which will deploy the Ravn X system to launch its ASLON-45 mission.

The U.S. Space Force is proactively partnering with the space industry to support U.S. space superiority goals. Having a strong launch system with responsive launch capability is key to ensuring the U.S. Space Force can quickly counter future threats.