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Consortium Injects $100 Million into Stratospheric Glider Developer AALTO

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A consortium comprising two Japanese banks, mobile operator NTT DOCOMO, and Space Compass Corporation has committed $100 million to HAPS developer AALTO. This substantial investment aims to support AALTO’s industrial and commercial roadmap, targeting a commercial launch of its services by 2026.

AALTO, which emerged from Airbus last year, has been advancing its High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) technology, known as Zephyr, since 2001. Zephyr is a solar-powered stratospheric glider equipped with mobile network technology, enabling rapid 5G connectivity to remote areas. Beyond telecommunications, Zephyr can also carry imaging equipment, such as Airbus’s Strat-Observer, facilitating various monitoring and detection capabilities.

The Zephyr glider currently holds a record of 64 days for continuous flight, with aspirations to extend this to over 200 days. Its ability to provide swift connectivity makes it invaluable in emergency scenarios, such as natural disasters.

AALTO CEO Samer Halawi highlighted the significance of this investment, stating that it marks a crucial step in the company’s journey toward a 2026 service launch. With backing from global aviation and connectivity leaders, AALTO is poised to capitalize on significant market opportunities in connectivity and earth observation.

As AALTO enters its next development phase, the company plans to initiate several customer missions, establish launch and landing sites for Zephyr, and advance its certification process over the coming year. This phase aims to pioneer sustainable connectivity and earth observation from the stratosphere, creating substantial value for stakeholders.

The Japanese consortium’s investment will be funneled through HAPS JAPAN Corporation, an entity specifically created for this purpose. This deal extends the collaboration between AALTO, NTT DOCOMO, and Space Compass, which began in 2022. Space Compass, a joint venture between NTT and SKY Perfect JSAT, is dedicated to developing a Space Integrated Computing Network, including direct-to-device mobile services using HAPS technology.

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