The StratoBus Project

Halfway between a drone and a satellite.

Thales Alenia Space 2015 • Aeroelasticity

This airship-based platform concept is designed for "low cost" missions, and fills the operational gap between satellites and drones (no launcher needed). It can operate in a network and requires only a streamlined land infrastructure. Hovering at an altitude of 20 kilometers, well above air traffic and the jet streams, the StratoBus platform accommodates a 200 kilogram payload, with power consumption of 4 to 5 kW.

It offers regional coverage and endurance of up to one year, depending on where it is based. The design lifetime is five years with annual ground maintenance featuring easy redeployment within a few day.

Multimission platform for dual use applications

Both stationary and easily movable, the StratoBus multimission platform is well suited to both military and civil applications:

Earth observation and surveillance
Homeland security and defense
Telecommunications and broadcasting
Navigation and environmental monitoring
Border and maritime surveillance
Boosting GSM network capacity for public events
GPS augmentation over areas of dense traffic
Internet delivery in zones not covered by terrestrial networks

An innovative and challenging concept

Aero dynamical high-altitude airship
70 to 100 meters long
Filled with an expanding gas in overpressure
Hull made of an advanced high-strength, very light material, UV-resistant and with very low permeability
Payload located in the best place of the stratosphere to reduce energy consumption to a minimum

The challenge in this concept is to provide maximum zone endurance while storing enough solar energy during the day to maintain its position at night at any time of the year and for wind speeds of up to 20m/s (90km/h). This makes the platform energy-independent; it will generate power from the Sun using high-efficiency flexible photovoltaic cells coupled with a light amplifier system (Thales Alenia Space patent), and store this power thanks to regenerative fuel cells in the nacelle.


StratoBus, a new autonomous stratospheric platform concept led by Thales Alenia Space along with partners, labeled by the Pegase competitiveness cluster.

Jean-Philippe Chessel
Thales Alenia Space
Thales Multimedia department


Carnot Mines
Mines ParisTech

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