In collaboration with Robert De Laurentis ( we were able to “fly” one of our third generation “wafer scale spacecraft” from the south Pole to the north Pole in a modified twin engine aircraft piloted solo from “Pole to Pole”. Starting in November 16, 2019 Robert took off from San Diego, CA to flew south eventually flew over the South Pole and then “hopped” northward until reaching the North Pole and then returning to San Diego in August 2020.

His mission was both of exploration in the limits of solo flight in small aircraft but also as a “World Ambassador” promoting peace and the vision of exploration. We have been working with Robert for several years as he prepared for his historic mission. Robert became interested in our work on finding a solution to enable humanity to reach far outside our solar system and enter another. We installed a fully functional autonomous WSS Gen 3 “spacecraft” on the inside of his aircraft looking out of a window, taking pictures, logging GPS coordinates and sensor data. All this was done autonomously with no human input over the 10 month mission. The UCSB WSS-3 worked flawlessly.

See UCSB Current article:

Funding: UCSB funding for this program comes from NASA grants NIAC Phase I DEEP-IN – 2015 NNX15AL91G and NASA NIAC Phase II DEIS – 2016 NNX16AL32G for the NASA Starlight program and the NASA California Space Grant NASA NNX10AT93H as well as a generous gift from the Emmett and Gladys W. fund. We also acknowledge the support of the Breakthrough Foundation for our Starshot effort.


Below – Selection of images taken by WSS-3.  Flight path and UCSB WSS payload design  are also shown.



Below – Selection of images takes by UCSB WSS prior to and during flight using the embedded imaging system. The 5 MP images were taken every 2.5 seconds. Approximately 4000 images were taken and stored in onboard flash memory.




Movie of flight images at 15 fps


Below – Recreation of flight path using more than 700,000 points of GPS data collected in-flight by the WSS