Solar Electric Airship UAV Development Advances

COLORADO SPRINGS, DENVER, Colorado – August 31, 2011– Global Near Space Services and Bye Engineering Partners jointly announced conclusion of Phase 2 of the StarLight high altitude long endurance solar electric airship intelligence and surveillance platform. The Long Endurance, Alternative Energy Stratospheric Airship Program was conducted under the supervision of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), Aircraft Division.

The NAVAIR program manager for this effort, Mr. Steve Huett said, “GNSS has made great strides in advancing lighter-than-air technology for high altitude flight operations.” John Hawley, President of Colorado Springs based Global Near Space Services (GNSS), said he expects the StarLight next generation solar electric UAV two-stage airship will become a world leader in “lighter than air”(LTA) surveillance and sensing because of StarLight’s performance, economy and utility. “We are delighted to announce the conclusion of the StarLight Phase 2 engineering effort.” Preliminary design of the unique airship upper stage and detail engineering and subscale prototyping of the flying solar electric lower stage has been completed. “StarLight is expected to be an absolutely unique combination of high altitude, long endurance and efficient solar electric propulsion, for the customer’s sensor systems.” he said.

StarLight is designed by GNSS to help commercial, state and federal customers obtain satellite-like telecommunications and high altitude surveillance capabilities for a fraction of the cost of space-based systems. StarLight is unique in the combination of a LTA shaped envelope upper stage, and a recoverable solar electric lower stage flying vehicle. The lower stage vehicle also provides vehicle control and propulsion for non-tethered station keeping. The program expects to transition from detail engineering to prototype in the near term. Initial briefings are being held with potential company partners and U.S. Defense, commercial and international customers.

Bruce Gillit Vice President, Engineering for Bye Engineering Partners, said the flyable solar electric lower stage vehicle provided several engineering challenges. “With GNSS, we created a lower stage vehicle that provided a sensor platform, propulsion and energy for both the combined upper and lower stage, along with an independent flyable capability to recover the lower stage and sensor package for refurbishment and redeployment,” Gillit said. The combination of this engineering lower stage requirement, together with the long endurance very high altitude environment was a significant and unique challenge. This new LTA UAV category could be much more efficient than existing and proposed systems. “GNSS and Bye Engineering Partners prides itself being cutting edge and looks forward to the challenge of delivering this whole new cost-effective approach,” he said.

About Near Space Systems

Near Space System (NSS) is a privately held corporation headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, whose flagship products focus on Lighter-Than-Air (LTA) unmanned aerospace systems. NSS operates in conjunction with its parent company, Near Space Systems, Inc., in development of these LTA platforms with missions to provide wide-area communications, broadband, and sensing devices to meet the high demands of military and commercial customers for network connectivity and ready access to vital information. For more information go to

About Bye Engineering Partners

Bye Engineering Partners provides a broad range of aerospace engineering support services. The company is collaborating with GNSS and Scion Aviation, LLC, located near Fort Collins, Colorado, to support the design and development of alternative energy concept aircraft. Bye Engineering Partners shares offices with its parent company, Bye Aerospace, at Centennial Airport near Denver, Colorado. For more information, go to


John Hawley

Near Space Systems


Phone: +1-719-685-8113