It was unveiled for the first time in March 2014 at Innov Days Thales. It seemed to be nothing more than a crazy dream of engineer and yet Thales Alenia Space has just announced the official launch of its stratospheric balloon project Stratobus.
No doubt spurred by the Loon project that Google tests in various countries around the globe, European engineers have opted for a quite different approach in his philosophy, that of the pseudo-satellite.
A solar powered blimp to replace geostationary satellites
It will take 4 hours to Thales Alenia Space to position its Stratobus in orbit above a point on the globe. Or rather to position it at 20,000 meters of altitude because the Stratobus is a balloon and will therefore mobilize no pitcher to be put into position.100 metres, with a maximum diameter of 33 meter, what to call a pseudo-satellite will weigh all the same 5 tonnes and can carry a payload of 250 kg fed to 5 kw. This payload may be observation equipment to monitor a border, carry out missions of observation of the environment, or the telecom equipment to offer internet or telephone coverage to an isolated area.
In contrast to draft Google Loon balloons that are pushed by the wind and must regularly be repositioned by change of altitude above the geographic area they are supposed to cover, the Stratobus is geostationary. Equipped with 4 electric motors, it will fight against the wind in order to maintain its position. Engineers believe that the panels and solar concentrators-powered device can withstand a wind that can reach up to 90 km/h.
Positioned at 20,000 meters, in the stratosphere, the Satobus is in principle above air traffic as well as the jetstreams. If the promise is held, a Stratobus and a relief ball will do to ensure a mission where a cloud of balloons needed to ensure the continuity of the service.
A prototype scale must take air current 2018. Thales Alenia Space will be able to verify that his concept is viable and that his balloon will be able to cope with the winds of high altitude powered by its solar panels. The objective is to create a ball able to hold air 5 years without interruption of service. The industrialist who announcement already have prospects interested in its pseudo-satellite hope commercialization by 2020.
Translation : Bing Translator
“VIDEO – StratoBus : top départ !”, Thales Alenia Space release, April 26, 2016
“Stratobus décolle !”, Thales Alenia Space press release, 26 avril 2016
“Loon, le projet du Cnes et de Google pour un accès Internet via des ballons”, Futura Sciences, Decembre 13, 2014