Having successfully completed a 16-day mission covering 3,000 miles and four different states, Tucson-based World View is confident that its technology – a stratospheric balloon – can make a significant environmental impact.
The Stratollite™ is a stratospheric balloon that enables persistent, real-time, high-resolution remote sensing over large areas. Because the balloon floats between 50,000 and 75,000 feet in the air, the Stratollite is able to collect data over a large area. Additionally, its remote navigability allows the operator to stabilize the balloon in one area for extensive periods of time.
Whereas satellites only monitor a specific location every two to three weeks and airplanes are limited to a narrow view of a landscape for just a couple hours, the Stratollite alleviates both of those limitations.
“What we’re developing is a vehicle that can stay over one place for a long period of time that allows us to do this remote sensing,” said World View business director Andrew Antonio. “That’s what the Stratollite lets us do, and that would be a breakthrough in our industry. If we can fully develop and commercialize a persistent remote sensing vehicle, that is something that just does not exist today, so it opens up all these applications.”
One of the Stratollite’s applications that Antonio is most excited for is its ability to monitor natural disasters like hurricanes and cyclones. The Stratollite will be able to take real-time footage of the hurricane so that first responders can quickly react to its progression.
Additionally, Antonio highlights its utility in preventing forest fires. By attaching high fidelity thermal sensors to the Stratollite, it can notice the formation of a small fire and alert firefighters to prevent it from becoming too destructive and dangerous.
“It will hopefully save many lives and increase the speed of response for government agencies that are trying to support these efforts,” Antonio said.
In addition to its environmental contributions, Antonio highlights its potential applications to the military. The Stratollite allows military support to aid troops on the ground by monitoring their situation in real time. This could expedite the process for sending supplies and additional ground support, if needed.
Plus, on the business side, the stratospheric balloons can help oil companies by monitoring pipelines and detecting thieves that attempt to steal oil. That could save the oil industry millions of dollars every year.
The Stratollite can potentially aid natural parks, insurance companies, environmental advocacy organizations, and more. “The applications are literally endless,” Antonio said.
Photo courtesy of World View