The STS-111 takes off a bit like a kite and can even be launched by a person running in front of it holding an attached rope. Thanks to the helium in the first segment, the aircraft rises, aided by the motion of the remaining three segments. These segments contain no rigid parts; in fact the entire body can be rolled up and stored in a pickup truck bed, according to the company.
Sanswire-TAO announced on Tuesday that they will publicly unveil the STS-111 UAV at Sanford International Airport in Orlando, Fla., in mid-2010. The company, which held a private demonstration of the technology in Stuttgart, Germany, on December 18, is working on a number of what it refers to as "Stratellite" aircraft, with STS-111 being the first. The next Stratellite is expected to fly as high as 18,288 meters.