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Zephyr S to get solar sheets

23rd May 2016 - 13:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Airbus Defence and Space has issued a production contract to MicroLink Devices for its epitaxial liftoff (ELO)-based multi-junction solar sheets to use for the former's new Zephyr S UAV, MicroLink announced on 18 May.

MicroLink's ELO-based solar sheets are suited for weight and area constrained applications such as solar-powered UAVs. They can generate over 1,000W per kg or 250W per square metre. ELO was developed with sponsorship from US defence, space and energy agencies, including the Army Research Office, Office of Naval Research, NASA and the Department of Energy.

The Zephyr is a new class of UAVs that can operate as a high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) for persistent local satellite-like services. It runs on solar power alone and has a maximum endurance of over 14 days and altitude of over 70,000ft.

Airbus Defence and Space already has an order for two Zephyr S UAVs from the British defence ministry. The UAV has a 25m wingspan and has a 50% greater battery payload capacity and 30% lower weight than its predecessor, the Zephyr 7.

This helps enables a heavier surveillance and communications payload. The vehicle is designed to fly over a month before landing for refurbishment and redeployment.

Steve Whitby, Head of HAPS Business Development, Airbus Defence and Space, said: 'Our collaboration with MicroLink Devices in the development stages and in the current production programme has enabled the latest generation of Zephyr HAPS, which is a critical addition to our extensive portfolio of space and defence products.

'MicroLink Devices is a world leader in the epitaxial liftoff of compound semiconductors providing outstanding performance for many semiconductor devices.  Combining Airbus and MicroLink Devices engineering expertise has proven to be a successful platform for our on-going success.'

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