This week, an Alabama-based company called Aevum unveiled the Ravn X, a drone designed to transport and launch satellites into low orbit. It weighs around 55,000 pounds when carrying a full payload, making it one of the heaviest unmanned aircraft in existence today. He is also 18 feet tall, has a wingspan of 60 feet and looks like he came straight out of Macross More.
The drone’s promise is that it can put a payload into low Earth orbit in about three hours, a fact that Aevum says will allow it to shorten satellite launch times from years to months. Apart from its grim exterior and record mass, the Ravn X is not that different from other planes. It only needs about 1 mile of runway to fly, which allows it to take off from almost any commercial airport. It also uses the same fuel as a traditional jet.