The internet has become a critical means of communication during humanitarian crises and a crucial everyday tool for people around the world. Now, a Portuguese company wants to make sure everyone has access to it. Quarkson plans to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to transmit internet access “to every corner of the world.”
Quarkson’s SkyOrbiter program is similar to Google’s Project Loon, which also seeks to deliver internet access to remote places. Where Google plans to float internet-enabled balloons above the earth, however, Quarkson intends to use a fleet of high-range UAVs much like the Titan Aerospace Solara 50 to deliver connectivity from orbit.
The SkyOrbiter fleet comprises six different low-altitude models and three high-altitude models. The most basic SkyOrbiter is the LA25. It is designed for commercial and government use and is able to provide connectivity to areas where none is available. The LA25 has a wingspan of about 25 m (82 ft), operates at 3,500 m (11,500 ft) and has a range of over 42,000 km (26,000 mi) or up to two weeks.
Each of the subsequent low altitude SkyOrbiters has an increased wingspan and range right up to the LA75, which has a wingspan of 75 m (246 ft) and a range of over 150,000 km (93,000 mi) or up to seven weeks. Unlike the low-altitude models, the high altitude UAVs orbit at 22,000 m (72,000 ft) and can stay in orbit for years as opposed to weeks. The most advanced of the high-altitude models, the HA75, has a wingspan of around 75 m (246 ft) and a range of up to 5,000,000 km (3,000,000 mi) or five years.
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