Airstar Aerospace will help the Franco-Italian joint venture in the development of the Stratobus High Altitude Platform System, a hybrid between a drone and a satellite.
Thales Alenia Space has confirmed its acquisition of a minority stake in French company Airstar Aerospace, a leader in the construction of airships and flexible structures of all types and operating at all altitudes.
Through this strategic partnership, the two companies aim to address certain “technological roadblocks” on the Stratobus a project to develop an autonomous High Altitude Platform System (HAPS) airship. Launched in 2015 by Thales Alenia Space, the project will benefit from the two partners’ respective areas of expertise, with a flight prototype expected to be ready towards 2020.
Functioning effectively as a hybrid between a drone and a satellite, Stratobus will be positioned at an altitude of about 20km over its theatre of operations, in the lower layer of the stratosphere, where the air is sufficiently dense to lift the airship balloon and the winds are low.
Thales Alenia Space’s equity investment ensures the development of Stratobus by calling on the expertise of Airstar Aerospace concerning the design of smart, high-performance and connected airships.
Thales Alenia Space will call on Airstar Aerospace’s expertise in the design of innovative flexible structures for space, as well as captive observation balloons, platforms that complement the capabilities of drones and the Stratobus airship.
In January, Abu Dhabi's Masdar Institute signed an MoU with Thales and the French graduate engineering school MINES ParisTech to develop applications for the Stratobus.