Aerostat hotspot

aerostat hotspotThis balloon-borne radio relay has the potential to provide “over-the-horizon” communications much more inexpensively than satellites. An aerostat “aircraft” is a commercial product called a helikite, a cross between a kite and a balloon that can carry a payload of 1.5 kilograms. Initial estimates indicated that aerostats flown at an altitude of less than 150 meters (500 feet) could maintain real-time, high-bandwidth communications between ships and other low-lying assets up to 15 kilometers (10 miles) away. Ships maneuver freely while flying the helikite as long as the wind velocity remains less than 40 knots. The helikite can be retrieved in minutes when necessary. This year, using inexpensive long-range WiFi transceivers and simple, omnidirectional antennas, radio links were repeatedly demonstrated between a helikite flown over MBARI and the Paragon vessel more than 11 kilometers offshore.