By 2029, the HAPS market is expected to generate $4 billion in value due to market demand, research, and funding from various agencies, according to Northern Sky Research. However, to tap into the larger market opportunity, HAPS solutions in the stratosphere need to operate in harsh thermal conditions, including temperatures as low as -90°C.
Several programs from the last two decades alone promised the use of stratospheric platforms for comms and observation, most of which fell through in the end. However, recent investments and subsequent mission successes from commercial players such as Alphabet and Airbus have injected a fresh wave of hope.
High Altitude Platforms have remained an emerging market even in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. What is driving this interest, and why might the current wave of HAPs-related activity be any different from those of previous decades?