This week, a company based out of Alabama called Aevum unveiled the Ravn X, a drone designed to carry and launch satellites into low-orbit. It weighs in at approximately 55,000 pounds when it’s carrying a full payload, making it one of the heaviest unmanned aircraft in existence today. It also stands 18 feet tall, has a wingspan of 60 feet and looks like it came straight out of Macross Plus.
The promise of the drone is that it can put a payload in low-earth orbit in approximately three hours, a fact Aevum claims will allow it to shorten lead times on satellite launches from years to months. Outside of its ominous-looking exterior and record-setting mass, the Ravn X isn’t so different from other aircraft. It only needs about 1-mile of runway to get in the air, allowing it to take off from almost any commercial airport. It also uses the same fuel as a traditional jet.