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Airstar Aerospace Plans a New Airship Factory in Occitania

This 100-meter long, helium-filled airship will evolve at an altitude of approximately 20 kilometers above the airspace 


Airstar Aerospace, a company specializing in the design and manufacture of stratospheric balloons and airships, wants to open in 2020 a new plant of 10,000 m2 in the Occitanie region to support its growth.


Created in 2015 by the Airstar group, the world leader in lighting balloons, of which it is now one of the subsidiaries, Airstar Aerospace plans to assemble a part of its personnel on the same production site in Zodiac Marine, based in Isère, its current head office, and its Ayguevives industrial unit, southeast of Toulouse.


Subcontractor of Airbus, the European Space Agency or the National Center for Space Studies (Cnes), the company is planning the construction of a 40-meter high hangar dedicated among others to the Stratobus program in which Airstar Aerospace is a partner of Thalès Alenia Space.


This 100-meter long, helium-filled airship will evolve at an altitude of approximately 20 kilometers above the air traffic space.


Powered by solar energy, it will perform missions complementary to that of a telecommunications or Earth observation satellite for border or site surveillance, military security, and environmental control.


This stratospheric balloon project in which Airstar Aerospace has been engaged since the acquisition of a minority shareholding operated by Thales Alenia Space in June 2017, begins with the construction of the first prototype on a reduced scale.



The production of this demonstrator is expected to start in 2019 for a first scheduled flight in 2021.


“Airstar Aerospace will provide the envelope equipped with nose clip systems, up and down balloons, pressure regulating elements and empennage,” says Alice Clech, Airstar group marketing, and communications project manager.


“For the Stratobus project, there is a technological lock to lift in the textile envelope.Our innovation will reside in a textile both ultra-resistant and ultra-lightweight to withstand the extreme conditions of the stratosphere”, adds Airstar’s spokesperson.


The airship will be launched from Earth and positioned for one year after which it will come down for maintenance before leaving.


“It will be able to perform missions similar to those of satellites for a lower cost.The fact that it can be reused for several missions is the basis of the business model,” says Alice Clech.


Beyond the Stratobus project, Airstar Aerospace is also banking on its activity related to captive balloons.


For these aerostats connected to the ground by cables in charge of the transmission of the data, it aims at “the European leadership”. The company is also one of the major players in the AeroLifter project, a hybrid system between the airship and captive balloon dedicated to skidding wood in the mountains and whose first flight could occur in 2019.


The manufacturer of aerostats, which achieved 4 million euros of turnover in 2017, predicts “a three-figure growth” within five years and spend 50 employees to a hundred employees.




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