Will Solar-Powered UAVs Replace Satellites?
Satellites, regardless of their function, are expensive. Between development, launch costs, and maintenance a single satellite can cost millions of dollars to keep in orbit. However, in a bid to change the rules of the satellite game Titan Aerospace has introduced a new high altitude UAV to replace conventional satellites.
Named the Solera, the solar-powered UAV has a massive 50 m (164 ft) wingspan, attached to its 15.5 m (54 ft) body. The entire craft, which weighs only 159 kg (350 lbs), is covered with some 3,000 solar cells allowing it to produce 7 kW of power during daylight hours.
While the Solera’s physical characteristics are pretty remarkable it’s the UAV’s performance that defines the craft. Capable of reaching altitudes of 20km (65,000 ft) Solara can crawl across the skies at 104 km/h (65 mph) for up to 5 years.
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