October 8, 2020 - Sierra County, New Mexico- HAPSMobile Inc., a subsidiary of SoftBank Corp. (TOKYO: 9434) and minority-owned by AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ: AVAV), successfully reached an altitude of more than 60,000 feet above sea level during a 20-hour test flight of the Sunglider™ solar-powered high-altitude platform station (HAPS) at Spaceport America. This is the second successful test flight of the Sunglider at Spaceport America since the company began operations at the site in May 2020.
The test flight began on September 21 at 5:16am (MT) and concluded just after 1:00am (MT) on September 22 following the successful achievement of a series of major test objectives and maneuvers. Sunglider reached an altitude of 62,500 feet (approximately 19 kilometers) and demonstrated the world’s first successful delivery of LTE connectivity from a fixed-wing HAPS autonomous aircraft in the stratosphere. The success of this stratospheric test flight is a major step forward for HAPSMobile as it continues to pursue its mission of bridging the digital divide by building its business in the stratosphere, a new frontier for humankind. HAPSMobile will continue to work to revolutionize mobile networks by leveraging HAPS.
Known as a “cell-tower in the sky,” Sunglider aims to provide better communications to under-served areas, including rural communities. The success of this stratospheric test flight is a major step forward in this mission.
HAPSMobile and AeroVironment invested $8 million in constructing a hangar, offices, and UAV test pad near the horizontal launch area at Spaceport America, in Spring 2020. They currently have approximately 35 employees living and working in Dona Ana and Sierra Counties.
Scott McLaughlin, Interim Executive Director at Spaceport America said, “All of us here congratulate HAPSMobile, AeroVironment and Loon on their substantial progress and this incredible flight. We are looking forward to a long partnership, and for AeroVironment becoming part of the growing employment base for good aerospace jobs in New Mexico.”
HAPSMobile will continue to test and fly Sunglider at Spaceport America for the next few years as the company acquires FAA certification for the aircraft.Video of the launch and testing can be found here.