July 30, 2020 - Sierra County, New Mexico- HAPSMobile Inc., a subsidiary of Japan’s telecommunications operator SoftBank Corp. along with its minority owner and aircraft development partner AeroVironment, Inc., held the first successful flight of the Sunglider™ solar-powered high-altitude platform system (HAPS) at Spaceport America on July 23, 2020.
This is the fourth flight of the unmanned (HAPS), which previously flew at Edwards Air Force Base, and the final test before HAPSMobile begins preparations for stratospheric test flights at Spaceport America.
New Mexico's Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes, announced in June that HAPSMobile and AeroVironment had chosen Spaceport America for test operations and development of their specialized communications platform. The so-called cell-tower in the sky aims to provide better communications to under-served areas, including rural communities. HAPSMobile and AeroVironment invested $8 million in constructing a hangar, offices and UAV test pad on the north side of the horizontal launch area at Spaceport America. They currently have approximately 35 employees living and working in Doña Ana and Sierra Counties.
“This was a very significant event for Spaceport America” said Scott McLaughlin, Spaceport America's Acting CEO and Director of Business Development. “We would like to congratulate HAPSMobile on a successful first flight in New Mexico. With the cooperation of our partners at the U.S. Army White Sands Missile Range, Spaceport America is able to host ground breaking events for our customers that will produce long-term economic benefits to New Mexico.”