Industry partners will invest in and work to develop a contract for the Thales Alenia Space-led Stratobus high-altitude platform station, Space News reported Thursday.
Peter de Selding writes the French-Italian group expects to add telecommunications payloads when HAPS systems become authorized to operate in Ka- and Ku-band.
“We expect to have our first contract in 2017 to develop the first proto-flight model,” said Jean-Philippe Chessel, head of the Stratobus project.
The report noted current Stratobus operations will be limited to optical and radar Earth observations until the International Telecommunication Union amends a rule that limits HAPS systems to Q- and V-bands for fixed services communications.
Space News added the company has begun a Stratobus flight certification process with the European Aviation Safety Agency and conduct a critical design review in 2018.
Stratobus will serve various applications such as border and maritime surveillance to help update GSM network capacity for public events as well as GPS augmentation over traffic areas.