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Drones, UAV, UAS and Satellites

[Earth - The first image from the Meteosat Third Generation Imager-1 reveals a level of detail about the weather over Europe and Africa not previously possible from 22,000 miles above Earth. EUMETSAT/ESA]

- Overview

Satellite communications (SATCOM) is a service that allows aircraft to communicate using satellites. Satellite communication terminals provide integrated solutions for transmission, reception, and satellite acquisition and tracking. The lightweight, compact terminal is designed to meet the SWaP (size, weight and power) requirements of drones.

Satellite communications offer a promising solution to the challenge of operating drones beyond visual line of sight and at greater distances than ever before. Military drones use satellite communications for continuous beyond line of sight (BLoS) communications.

Some drone satellite communications solutions include:

  • Inmarsat Velaris: Provides reliable and consistent drone satellite communications connectivity, allowing drones to safely fly beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and integrate with other air traffic.
  • Honeywell VersaWave: The lightest and most compact satellite communications system on the market.

Drones and satellites are increasingly used for environmental monitoring, such as:

  • Tracking wildlife
  • Mapping vegetation
  • Detecting contamination
  • Measuring climate change


- Aeronautical Information

Technological innovation has become an important part of today's modernization and globalization. It helps different industries to increase employment and services. One of the key processes that most industries have been dealing with is access to aeronautical information. 

Aeronautical information (AI) is information that is critical for the safe operation of the National Airspace System (NAS). Examples of AI include: 

  • Visualization and presentation of navigational and aeronautical data
  • Visual and radio aids to navigation
  • Airports
  • Controlled airspace
  • Special-use airspace
  • Obstructions

Aircraft and satellite imaging are innovative solutions that help the industry to achieve the above procedures in a more efficient and convenient manner. 


- Satellites

Satellites provide enterprises with a flexible, versatile, reliable and rapidly deployable way to meet a wide range of communication needs. Satellite technology has emerged as a flexible and cost-effective solution for distributing programming and establishing broadband data networks, regardless of the user's location.

Satellites are relay stations in space that transmit voice, video and data communications. They are ideal for meeting the global communications needs of military, government, and commercial organizations because they provide economical, scalable, and highly reliable transmission services that can easily reach multiple sites over wide geographic areas. 

Transmissions via satellite communication systems can bypass existing terrestrial infrastructure, which is often limited and unreliable in many parts of the world.


[Lofoten, Norway]

- Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) are aerial vehicles and related equipment that do not carry a human operator, but are piloted remotely or fly autonomously. UAS are commonly referred to as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), and unmanned aircraft. A UAS typically consists of 1) an aircraft without a pilot, 2) a remote pilot station, 3) a command and control link, and 4) payloads specific to the intended application/operation, often including dedicated cameras or other options for near-term analysis Sensors that collect data.

For example, hyperspectral cameras could be used in precision agriculture applications to determine the relative health of specific crops and more accurately dispense fertilizers and/or pesticides. In addition to the command and control link, most UASs will have some means of transmitting collected data for analysis.


- Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly referred to as a drone, is an aircraft without any human pilot, crew or passengers. Drones were originally developed in the 20th century to carry out military missions that were too "dull, dirty or dangerous" for humans, and by the 21st century they have become a critical asset for most militaries. 

As control techniques improved and costs fell, their use expanded to many nonmilitary applications. These include aerial photography, precision agriculture, forest fire monitoring, river monitoring, environmental monitoring, policing and surveillance, infrastructure inspections, smuggling, product delivery, entertainment and drone racing.

Small unmanned aerial vehicles (unmanned aircraft systems) have the potential to provide significant social and economic benefits in the United States and around the world. 

Specifically, drone operations offer a wide range of potential applications in areas such as inspecting infrastructure, assisting in disaster and wildfire response, and delivering medical supplies. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, drones have been used for a wide range of tasks requiring social distancing measures, including non-contact distribution of personal protective equipment and delivery of tests and medical supplies to hospitals. 

The use of drones is expected to continue to increase.


[More to come ...]


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