Home News Local News Sceye launches airship at Roswell Air Center Thursday

Sceye launches airship at Roswell Air Center Thursday

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Vehicles leave the Sceye hangar area of the Roswell Air Center Thursday afternoon after an airship launch. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Sceye Inc. launched an airship Thursday afternoon at the Roswell Air Center, according to a city employee.

This scaled-down version of a Sceye airship launched in October 2019. (Submitted Photo)

Photos of the airship were posted to local social media sites at about 3:30 p.m., and Roswell Air Center Director Scott Stark confirmed that the launch occurred at about 2:30 p.m. He said he could not provide any other information.

Sceye is a materials science and airship development firm. It has been headed by Mikkel Vestergaard Fransden since January 2020. He previously served for 22 years as the chief executive officer of the private family-owned corporation Vestergaard, based in Switzerland. That global company develops new products intended to improve health, such as straws that filter worms from water and nets and food storage bags treated with insecticide that can prevent the spread of malaria or other insect-vectored diseases.

Started as a venture of Vestergaard, Sceye began working in Roswell in 2014 on its concept of designing and building a helium-powered airship capable of traveling 65,000 miles into the stratosphere and staying there for extended periods of time.

The idea is that the ships — lifted by helium and powered by solar — will carry audio equipment or cameras that can collect data from the earth or will carry the infrastructure necessary to provide internet or cellphone networks. In addition to providing communication equipment for remote areas or off-grid communities, the airships’ equipment could be used for such global health and humanitarian purposes as monitoring climate change, methane emissions or wildlife or human trafficking.

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Successful launches of scaled-down versions of the airship previously occurred in Roswell and in Moriarty, Vestergaard told state legislators in August when he discussed how Sceye is working on plans to provide internet to tribal and rural areas of New Mexico.

He also talked about the company’s plan to build a much larger facility than the ones at Roswell and Moriarty, with the New Mexico Economic Development Department providing $5 million in Local Economic Development Act funds toward that effort. He explained that he has invested $50 million of his own money into the Sceye venture.

The new facility would have to be bigger than several football fields, Vestergaard said, large enough to accommodate the full-size commercial airships, which are planned to be about 150 feet long and 130 feet wide.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.