Appropriately named Polish startup Cloudless has successfully completed another experimental flight of its solar-powered Ultra Long Endurance Platform (ULEP-1) drone – this time at a dizzying altitude of 24,784 meters/81,312 feet above Earth. 

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) aced a barrage of flight and performance tests during its 2.5 hours in the heavens. And once it completed those challenges, the craft touched down almost precisely on its designated landing spot.

That feat will catch the interest of players in the booming pseudo-satellite sector searching for economic yet efficient means of servicing their lower-altitude orbiters.

“Tweener” dilemma

The demand for UAVs like the Cloudless craft will only grow as cheap stratospheric drone options evolve. Aerospace giants including Airbus, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and Northrop Grumman are all active in the estimated $23 billion High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) market. Tech companies Facebook, Google,…