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Calverton startup seeks workers for solar drone effort

Daniel Preston of Luminati Aerospace talks to members

Daniel Preston of Luminati Aerospace talks to members of the media on Oct. 8, 2015, after a town board meeting in Riverhead. Credit: Ed Betz

Luminati Aerospace LLC, the Calverton solar drone startup that describes itself as the "skunk works for a major dot-com," is seeking job candidates with some serious brain power.

On the company website,, are descriptions of the backgrounds job hunters will need to join what the company calls its "dream team of engineers and university professors."

The starting point is a doctorate in computer science, electrical engineering, aerospace engineering or mechanical engineering.

From there, the company is seeking a record of accomplishment in fields such as robot operating systems; aerospace guidance, navigation and control; embedded software design; and Kalman filtering, which is an algorithm that turns a jumble of data on the variables of a dynamic system into a reasonable estimate of the outcome.

After a hearing at Riverhead Town Hall earlier this month, CEO Daniel Preston, a Long Island native, said Luminati is seeking to fill about 40 tech jobs. The website says, "Luminati confirms an investment of up to $50 million at the Calverton facility."

The company, which has not disclosed the identity of its backer, aims to build solar-powered drones that can remain aloft "nearly indefinitely" and beam Internet service back to Earth. Luminati acquired 16.3 acres at a Calverton industrial park from Skydive Long Island and is seeking access to a 10,000-foot runway.

In an email, a company spokeswoman said Luminati had considered sites in the Southwest, but Calverton cinched the deal because of its runway facilities, the enthusiasm of Riverhead Town officials and Preston's desire "to restore Long Island's prominent position in aviation research and manufacturing."

Two major Internet companies, Facebook and Google, have disclosed plans to use solar-powered drones to beam Internet access to remote areas. In comments earlier this month Preston said Luminati is "not necessarily secretive," but is committed to guarding the identity of its dot-com financial backer.

In a phone interview Tuesday Sean Walter, a Conservative who is locked in a tight election race to retain the Riverhead Town supervisor's post, said it's too early to forecast the economic impact of Luminati's research and development program, but "that's something that will come in the not-too-distant future."


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