Thales Alenia Space Pursue Stratosphere Cruising Spy Blimps

Thales Alenia Space explores the use of Stratospheric blimps for reconnaissance applications.
Image credit: Thales Alenia Space

Thales Alenia Space has awarded a contract to French defense procurement agency DGA to explore the use of a “Stratobus™ type platform” in reconnaissance applications.

The Stratobus™ is a concept first introduced at the 2014 Thales InnovDays in Paris. The system is essentially an autonomous stratospheric airship that operates at an altitude of approximately 20 kilometers. It can be equipped and reequipped with a variety of payloads from surveillance to telecommunications.

According to a January 8 press release, Thales Alenia Space has awarded a contract to DGA to conduct a concept study. The study will focus on utilizing a “Stratobus™ type platform” for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications to meet the needs of the French army.

“The aim of this contract is to assess the relevance of Stratobus™ type continuous stratospheric solutions to meet defense needs,” said Jean-Philippe Chessel, Director of the Stratobus™ product line. “It will enable us to prepare the foundations for the development of a complete solution.”

The study will include an operational concept study that will explore its use in simulated theaters of operation and a full-scale demonstrator concept that will be capable of verifying the technology.

According to Chessel, DGA hopes to perform the first flight demonstration of the system by the end of 2023.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.