Tierna Unruh-Enos is publisher at The Paper.

A 270-foot-long silver dirigible-like structure launched Tuesday morning into the stratosphere from Roswell to complete a 24-hour flight that could change the future of broadband connectivity in New Mexico.

The helium structure – also known as a high-altitude platform station, or HAPS – is the work of the New Mexico-based company Sceye, (pronounced Sky). It is also the company’s first attempt at a 24-hour flight.

According to The Albuquerque Journal, if successful, it would mark a major turning point for the company to move forward with permanent flights using a fleet of five airships that could bring broadband to every corner of the state.

Sceye says its ability to lift and power more than any other platform and hold station in the stratosphere for months at a time, makes Sceye a superior solution to both satellites, terrestrial infrastructure and other HAPS.

By lifting a cell tower to this altitude, Sceye extends its reach 100s of times to improve the efficiency and speed, and because Sceye connects directly to any device – cellphone, tablet, PC – everyone can access a high-speed internet service from anywhere.

Sceye is also working with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of New Mexico as part of a collaboration to monitor methane gas emissions from oil and gas infrastructure.

The EPA, Sceye, and the New Mexico departments of environment and economic development signed a memorandum of understanding in 2021 to launch the five-year study.