The HAWK30 is created to fly at a speed of sixty knots and can stay airborne for months at a time. Softbank intends to create a stable internet connection unserved by telecommunications, in areas like mountain terrains, remote islands, and developing countries.
FREMONT, CA: HAPS Mobile, unit of Softbank, completed the first test flight of HAWK30, their new unmanned solar-powered high altitude platform system (HAPS), at NASA's California Armstrong Flight Research center (AFRC).
The HAWK30 has been designed with the aim to offer a stratospheric telecommunications platform, capable of delivering next-generation global connectivity. "HAWK30 is a solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed to provide a high-altitude communications platform, and will be used to provide telecommunications connectivity from the stratosphere as an airborne base station," said Junichi Miyakawa, Representative Director and CTO of Softbank Corp., and also President and CEO of HAPS Mobile Inc.
NASA's Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review Board granted a limited flight release to test HAWK30 in a restricted air space at AFRC after the company met with NASA's ground and range safety requirements. "We’re very pleased that HAWK30’s first test flight was a success. It was an exciting journey to get to this point. We were able to see HAWK30 take flight in front of us and witness its grace in the air. We’re extremely grateful to NASA for their guidance and operational support," said Miyakawa.
Once all operations at AFRC are completed, HAPS Mobile intends to transport the HAWK30 to Lanai in Hawaii Islands, where they plan to accelerate preparations to perform stratospheric test flights in the fiscal year ending March 31st, 2020. "While this successful test flight represents just the first step, we’re moving forward with tests in the stratosphere and long flight duration tests lasting several months up to half a year. HAPS Mobile will continue to work toward its goal of bridging the world’s digital divide and revolutionizing mobile networks by leveraging HAPS," added Miyakawa.
The crewless aerial vehicle has a wingspan of 256 feet and is designed with wing embedded solar panels that generate energy to power ten propellers. The HAWK30 is created to fly at a speed of sixty knots and can stay airborne for months at a time. Softbank intends to create a stable internet connection unserved by telecommunications, in areas like mountain terrains, remote islands, and developing countries.
The HAWK30 is built with a system that will not interfere with terrestrial base station networks. After launch, the vehicle will enable better connectivity for drone operations, adoption of Internet of Things and 5G, and a stable communications network, regardless of situations on the ground. The company expects to launch the HAWK30 commercially by 2023.
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