UAVOS and Stratodynamics have successfully completed the next stage of flights tests of the earth observation platform called the HiDRON to an altitude of 82,000ft.
In a collaboration with researchers from the University of Kentucky, the HiDRON also carried an atmospheric measurement system onboard.
The night-time flight lasted four hours, including the one-hour weather balloon launch period with an average climb rate at 22 ft./s.
At release altitude the HiDRON was 22m away from the launch site where it headed home and was above launch area at an altitude of 59,000 ft.
The HiDRON then glided near the home position with a descent rate much slower than a comparable parachute-borne instrument, a journey which lasted around three hours.
According to the mission team, the HiDRON stratospheric aircraft performed well in standard operational modes and in challenging BVLOS conditions.
It operated in headwinds up to 112mph, -60°C temperatures, experienced wing icing and reliably returned home and landed autonomously.
Watch the video released by the team involved here:
Aliaksei Stratsilatau, lead developer at UAVOS, said: “We also undertook studies of the descending wind stream structure in the stratosphere to increase the duration of the HiDRON flight. In addition, our specialists developed a control and tracking system for an unmanned aircraft in real conditions within commercial air traffic space, which confirms the project’s readiness for commercial use.”
Stratodynamics Aviation’s founder and CEO, Gary Pundsack, added: “The HiDRON performed well in challenging winter winds and night conditions. At the 25km launch altitude, the HiDRON travelled 36 km from home.”
He concluded: “The return glide was controlled and, at an altitude of 18 km, the HIDRON was above the home position where it loitered in a slow descent down. Even with a build-up of ice on the wings, from passing through low-level clouds, the HiDRON landed autonomously. The test demonstrated the HiDRON’s aerodynamic capabilities and avionic system reliability.”