World’s Biggest Drone Can Drop a Rocket, Launch Satellites

The Ravn X weighs nearly 28 tons with a wingspan of 60 feet.

It’s 18-feet (5,4 m) tall, has a wingspan of 60 feet (18,2 m), and a length of 80-feet (24,3 m). It’s not some giant prehistoric flying dinosaur behemoth, it’s what is being called the world’s biggest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). 

That said, it’s not the world’s biggest drone by sheer size, that’s still Northrop Grumman’s MQ-4C Triton, but it is potentially the biggest in terms of mass. Aevum’s rocket launcher, Ravn X, weighs a whopping 55,000 pounds (24,947 kg).

Ravn X made its official debut on Thursday, and it’s quite the sight.

The Alabama-based private rocket launch startup, Aevum, has developed and designed its fully autonomous Ravn X to drop a rocket midair that launches satellites into orbit. It’s able to pop these satellites into orbit every 180 minutes

Without needing the use of a launchpad, this UAV can take off and land from any runway that’s a mile long. 

Once Ravn X meets its appropriate location, speed, and altitude, its two-stage rocket drops out of its belly, which launches a 220 pound (100 kg) payload into low-Earth orbit.

Aevum is already a bit ahead of the drone game, as it secured U.S. Air Force funding, reports Business Insider who spoke with Jay Skylus, the startup’s CEO. The U.S. Air Force contracted Aevum last year to launch its new mission called Agile Small Launch Operational Normalizer 45 (ASLON 45). The point is to fly experimental satellites that detect enemy missile launches. 

The aircraft is currently 70% reusable, with the hopes that this number will go up to 95% in the future. 

“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 Skylus.


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