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World's biggest drone will send satellites into space on a rocket

The Ravn X is the first stage of Aevum's autonomous aerial-satellite delivery system.

Andy Altman Director of Video Production
Andy Altman is a producer covering all things science and tech. He led production on CNET's award-winning limited documentary series Hacking the Apocalypse. He also created and co-hosts our video series What the Future.
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Andy Altman

Satellite delivery isn't exactly cutting-edge tech these days. Lately it feels like SpaceX is doing that every week. Liftoff usually starts with a ground-based rocket, which is expensive and time-consuming to launch. Aevum believes its massive Ravn X drone can do it better, for less money.

At 80 feet long and 18 feet tall, the Ravn X is the world's biggest drone, says Aevum. Driven by Aevum's proprietary software, the drone would fly itself to a specified altitude, where it would launch a rocket to deliver a payload of small satellites to low Earth orbit. Click the video above for more on the delivery process.


Aevum CEO Jay Skylus in front of the Ravn X.


The launch system is 70% reusable, Aevum said. CEO Jay Skylus hopes to get that close to 100%. 

"The first stage can just land, throw another rocket on, and it can take off again, just like an airliner would at the gate." Skylus told CNET. Test flights are expected to begin this year.

Aevum said it has already secured more than $1 billion in launch contracts. That includes a contract with the US Space Force to deliver 360 satellites to low Earth orbit. Skylus said that could happen as soon as this year.