The HiDRON stratospheric glider, a joint project between UAVOS and Stratodynamics, has successfully carried out its regular test flight.
UAVOS’ operators launched the stratospheric aircraft from a high-altitude balloon carrying a NASA designed sensor successfully deploying the experimental payload to 24 km altitude and back.
Extensive testing was performed to test operation in high altitude flight regimes utilising UAVOS’ autopilot system and payload test services.
A launch routine was tested allowing a safe transition from free-fall to stable horizontal flight in thin air after being dropped from the balloon. UAVOS’ autopilot system has once again proven its superior long – range performance Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) capabilities.
The payload was a combination of forward-sensing turbulence detection technologies developed by the University of Kentucky (UK) in Lexington and NASA’s Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia.
The flight test aimed to help researchers assess the performance of a wind probe from the UK along with an infrasonic microphone sensor.
Together, the instruments are designed to aid forward-sensing turbulence detection for unmanned aerial vehicles, commercial aircraft, the urban air mobility market, and the on-demand drone delivery sector.
Nick Craine, Stratodynamics’ business development lead, said: ““While the company has conducted pre-flight testing with the licensed sensor, the most recent flight was the first complete payload pre-test flight in an operational environment. The next stage of flight testing is forthcoming at Spaceport America, New Mexico.This experiment enables cross-validation of the sensor with UK’s technology.”
Aliaksei Stratsilatau, CEO and Lead Developer at UAVOS, said: “Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle inside the stratosphere means operating it outside visual line of sight, in low pressures and cold temperatures. These environmental conditions pose many challenges to the UAV aerodynamic design, the autopilot system and the ground infrastructure.
“We’ve tested the autopilot setup and analyzed flight test results from every phase of the mission. The lessons learned from this test flight will be focused on the future high -altitude missions as well as future Mars analogue flight concepts.”