The American Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has announced a competition to create a system capable of launching a payload into space at least 10 times every 10 days. Another requirement is that the system should be reusable and relatively cheap.
As a result, on December 3, the American startup Aevum from Alabama presented one of the world's largest unmanned aerial vehicles Ravn X, which is designed to launch satellites into orbit. Ravn X is the world’s first autonomous launch vehicle and the largest unmanned aircraft system. It is 25 meters long and has a wingspan of 18 meters. The vehicle has a maximum take-off weight of 25 tons and runs on conventional aviation fuel. It is assumed that the new system will allow space launches every three hours.
Aevum is a company that provides space logistics and launch services for lightweight payloads. It focuses on automating the process of mission management and delivery into low Earth orbit.
“Aevum is completely reimagining access to space. The current definition of rocket science doesn’t work for us. With Aevum, everyone will be able to say, ‘It is rocket science and I can do it.’ Aevum is pushing logistics to the next generation with software and automation technologies,” said Jay Skylus, founder and CEO of Aevum.
The developers said that their vehicle will fly at an altitude of 9-18 thousand meters, from where it will launch a two-stage rocket with a payload into space. The latter will launch satellites into near-Earth orbit. The company is keeping the rest of the details of the project secret.
The first flight of the vehicle should take place before the end of 2021. In addition, next year, Aevum plans to conduct the first demonstration launch in the interests of the US Department of Defense.