AeroVironment, a technology company specializing in autonomy, has experienced significant growth due to the soaring demand for its unmanned and autonomous systems. With eight of its robots and drones in use in Ukraine, AeroVironment has become a major player in the field of warfare technology. However, CEO Wahid Nawabi emphasizes that the company’s capabilities extend beyond the battlefield.
AeroVironment has a history in space, most notably for its design and development of the Mars Ingenuity helicopter with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The Ingenuity made history in 2021 as the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. This achievement marks the beginning of AeroVironment’s space robotics business, with the potential for numerous missions related to space exploration and colonization.
In addition to its work with NASA, AeroVironment has partnered with Softbank to develop high-altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS) for the stratosphere. These solar-powered aircraft, with wingspans longer than an Airbus A380, are designed to provide broadband connectivity and compete with terrestrial cell towers and satellites.
Alongside its commercial applications, Nawabi highlights the defense applications of HAPS, particularly for persistent overwatch and battlefield communications. The valuable lessons learned from these endeavors will contribute to AeroVironment’s emerging space robotics business, connecting the missions to larger goals within the industry.
In other news, NASA’s Psyche asteroid mission is set for potential liftoff next month, awaiting a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket launch. SpaceX has also achieved a new industry record with its 62nd orbital launch this year, surpassing its previous record. Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, aims to increase the number of Falcon flights and accelerate the company’s launch frequency.
Furthermore, it has been reported that Musk tapped into his space company for a $1 billion loan around the time of his acquisition of the social media company formerly known as Twitter. Japan has also entered the moon race with the successful launch of its SLIM spacecraft and XRISM telescope.
AeroVironment’s success in autonomous systems and space robotics demonstrates its potential to shape the future of both warfare and space exploration. As technology advances, the company’s capabilities will continue to expand, creating new opportunities for innovation and development.
– SpaceFlight Now
– The Wall Street Journal
– The New York Times