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World's biggest drone will send satellites into space on a rocket

CNET logo CNET 1/29/2021 Andy Altman
a propeller airplane sitting on the tarmac of an airport runway: Aevum CEO Jay Skylus in front of the Ravn X. © Aevum

Aevum CEO Jay Skylus in front of the Ravn X.

Satellite delivery isn't exactly cutting-edge tech these days. Lately it feels like SpaceX is doing that every week. Liftoff usually starts with a ground-based rocket, which is expensive and time-consuming to launch. Aevum believes its massive Ravn X drone can do it better, for less money.

At 80 feet long and 18 feet tall, the Ravn X is the world's biggest drone, says Aevum. Driven by Aevum's proprietary software, the drone would fly itself to a specified altitude, where it would launch a rocket to deliver a payload of small satellites to low Earth orbit. Click the video above for more on the delivery process.

a fighter jet sitting on top of a runway: Aevum CEO Jay Skylus in front of the Ravn X. Aevum © Provided by CNET Aevum CEO Jay Skylus in front of the Ravn X. Aevum

The launch system is 70% reusable, Aevum said. CEO Jay Skylus hopes to get that close to 100%. 

"The first stage can just land, throw another rocket on, and it can take off again, just like an airliner would at the gate." Skylus told CNET. Test flights are expected to begin this year.

Aevum said it has already secured more than $1 billion in launch contracts. That includes a contract with the US Space Force to deliver 360 satellites to low Earth orbit. Skylus said that could happen as soon as this year. 


Video: How the world's biggest drone will get satellites into orbit (CNET)

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