Looking like a regular blimp, the Stratobus is a really interesting piece of kit! With applications including telecommunications, broadcasting, navigation, observation and security, you can see why it is receiving a lot attention. Its long endurance and complete autonomy from a fixed position gives it a leading edge over similar projects. Already having Airbus onboard, the Stratobus could make an appearance sooner than we realise.
It's very interesting that the Stratobus is powered by a fuel cell. Hydrogen is generated through the splitting of water by electrolysis with the energy provided by solar panels. I would be very interested in knowing if hydrogen generation via water electrolysis limited the lifetime of the Stratobus to the quoted 5 years.
Satellites may be very useful for communications, navigation and other applications, but they're awfully expensive to build and launch, and once they're in orbit ... well, there's no reusing them. That's why a consortium led by Thales Alenia Space is developing the StratoBus. It's a planned autonomous airship that can be launched like a regular blimp, but that will be able to hover at an altitude of 20 km (12 miles) – that's up in the stratosphere, hence the name.