Airbus Defence and Space has opened the first launch site for its Zephyr high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) in Wyndham, Western Australia.

This site has been selected because of large unrestricted airspace and reliable weather surrounding the area.

It also follows significant investment made by Airbus into its Zephyr programme.

Airbus Unmanned Aerial Systems head Jana Rosenmann said: “The official opening of the Airbus Wyndham launch site in Western Australia, the world’s first operational HAPS site, marks the start of a new era for Zephyr.

“The site is our gateway to the stratosphere and will be the main flight base for Zephyr going forward.”

Zephyr is a solar-electric, stratospheric unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which is designed to capture the Sun’s rays.

“The site is our gateway to the stratosphere and will be the main flight base for Zephyr going forward.”

It is developed to operate above the weather and conventional air traffic, thereby bringing new capability and becoming complementary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to offer uninterrupted satellite-like services to a particular local.

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Zephyr is also capable of providing new see, sense and connect capabilities to both commercial and military clients.

The HAPS is expected to enhance the disaster management activities, including monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills. It can also be adapted to offer uninterrupted surveillance, track the world’s changing environments, and provide communications to remote areas.

Zephyr is designed to operate in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000ft/21km.

The ultra-lightweight solution has 25m of wingspan and weighs less than 75kg.