The American company Aevum presented an autonomous satellite launch system called Ravn X: it can launch every 180 minutes.
This autonomous complex of the world’s largest drone and launch vehicle is 24 meters long and has a wingspan of 18 meters. Its gross take-off weight is 25 tons.
The drone is very similar to a regular plane and will fly like a real plane, taking off from any 1.6 km runway, without managing the infrastructure of an expensive launch pad.
In-flight, it drops a two-stage launch vehicle, which can launch payloads weighing up to 500 kg into low-earth orbit. According to the CEO of Aevum Jay Skylus, the system will be ready for operation within a year and a half.
Watch the Ravn X Autonomous Launch Vehicle Rollout!https://t.co/nCBNcjpWG0
— Aevum (@aevumspace) December 3, 2020
According to the startup representatives, their development, unlike analogs, optimizes each launch considering such variables as weather conditions, air traffic, the destination in orbit, payload weight, ground crew work schedules, and other processes. This, they said, guarantees uninterrupted offline service.
After being delivered to low-earth orbit, the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) must return to Earth, land on the runway, and park in the hangar.
Several launch flights have already been scheduled, which will take place from the Cecil spaceport. The company added that they have already signed several contracts worth more than $1 billion. In particular, this is an agreement for the first official mission to launch small satellites with the US Space Force.