High-altitude airships company picks New Mexico for base

The Associated Press

Switzerland-based company is negotiating a deal to provide better broadband access to the Navajo Nation too

Russell Contreras
Associated Press

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A technology company aiming to send high-altitude airships above Earth to monitor crops and bring broadband has chosen New Mexico for its U.S. production center, New Mexico Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes announced Tuesday. 

The Switzerland-based Sceye picked the state as its U.S. base for stratospheric flights for earth observation and communication after spending more than $50 million in developing and maturing the stratospheric airship and building infrastructure in New Mexico, state officials said.

Under the new plan, the company, founded by global humanitarian Mikkel Vestergaard, will locate its manufacturing operation in the state and will create 140 high-paying manufacturing and engineering jobs. 

Sceye is working to develop a fleet of airships that could be parked for long periods of time about 65000 feet (19,812 meters) in the air. Once in the sky, the blimp-like airships could monitor crop conditions, climate change, and human trafficking. The crafts also may improve communication connections between drones, aircraft, satellites and expand broadband.

Sceye is negotiating a deal to provide better broadband access to the Navajo Nation and other underserved areas in New Mexico. 

Keyes said Sceye will start with five airships over the state. 

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