Ravn X from Aevum is “the world’s largest unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) by weight”. Its purpose is to send small satellites into space, which it can do with very few resources. And it does not require as long preparation as rockets.
Ravn X is 24 meters long, 5.5 meters high and has a wing width of 18.3 meters. Its total take-off weight is 24,950 kg. Its design does not differ much from standard autonomous flying vehicles. It is a high-winged tail driven by two turbofan engines. Its maximum speed is 925 km / h and can reach an altitude of 18,288 meters.
The whole system consists of three steps. The first is the autonomous plan described above. The second and third stages are rockets mounted in a partially submerged position below the fuselage, whose task is to reach the planet’s orbit. All three Ravn X stages run on standard Jet-A fuel used by passenger aircraft.
“We will now begin performing the vehicle level tests required for airworthiness certification and licensing,” said Aevum CEO Jay Skylus.
Even before Aevum presented the prototype for Ravn X, it had already received the first contracts from the US government for a total of $ 1 billion. The first task is particularly important. ASLON-45 is a contract signed with the US space force, a newly created type of US military.
An important feature of Ravn X is its short preparation time. It’s only 3 hours. After the mission, the plane returns to the ground and can be prepared for the next mission. Another is security. Unlike Virgin Galactic’s design, the Ravn X system works through the air without a pilot.
This in turn increases safety but enables greater risk. Second-stage rocket engines start only half a second after separation, minimizing energy loss. However, there may be a situation where the unit does not start and results in an explosion. In the case of a manned flight, this would be impossible due to the threat to human life.