There's no doubt that satellites have become an essential part of our daily lives, making things like communications, navigation, weather forecasting, and remote imaging all possible. Unfortunately, the orbiting objects can be very expensive, both to build and to launch into outer space. For some of the functions that they carry out, however, an actual satellite isn't required - a high altitude, long endurance (HALE
) aircraft could also get the job done, and at a much lower cost. Some such aircraft have been powered by conventional fuel
, and hydrogen
. On November 13th, though, the Electric High Altitude Solar Powered Aircraft (ELHASPA) joined the ranks of HALE aircraft to fly using nothing but the power of the Sun.
Northrop Grumman's Block 40 Global Hawk
has new eyes. The unmanned aircraft completed its first full system flight carrying the production version of the next-gen Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 21.
With the use of airships for passenger transport decreasing in the early 20th century as their capabilities were eclipsed by those of airplanes – coupled with a number of disasters – they were largely resigned to serving as floating billboards or as camera platforms for covering sporting events. But the ability to hover in one place for an extended period of time also makes them ideal for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance purposes, which is why Lockheed Martin has been developing its High Altitude Airship
(HAA). The company yesterday launched the first-of-its-kind High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) to test a number of key technologies critical to development of unmanned airships.
In a setback for AeroVironment
's four-year demonstrator program, the first Global Observer unmanned aircraft system
has crashed during flight-testing. AeroVironment has confirmed the "mishap" occurred at 2:30 am PDT on April 1st, approximately 18 hours into its ninth test flight at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) in California.
Following on from a successful maiden flight under battery power
in 2010, AeroVironment’s high altitude, long endurance (HALE
) Global Observer unmanned aircraft has now taken to the skies using hydrogen-fueled propulsion. The aircraft reached an altitude of 5,000 feet during the four hour flight on January 11 at Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) in California. Both the endurance and the altitude of the system will be expanded in further test flights in order to achieve the planned operational altitude of 55,000 to 65,000 feet.
The three world records that QinetiQ applied for after its Zephyr
High-Altitude Long-Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle completed a successful 14-day flight in July 2010, have been confirmed. The aircraft has now officially been ratified as staying in the air longer and achieving the highest altitude of any surveillance craft in its class, and setting the absolute duration record of 14 days and 21 minutes.
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Vulture program
, which aims to develop and demonstrate technology to enable a single high-altitude unmanned airplane (UAV) to operate continuously for a period of five years, has entered phase II. Under the terms of an US$89 million contract, Boeing will develop a full-scale demonstrator called the SolarEagle that will make its first demonstration flight in 2014. The aircraft will have highly efficient electric motors and propellers and a high-aspect-ratio, 400-foot wing for increased solar power and aerodynamic performance.
QinetiQ has filed for three world records for Zephyr
, its solar powered high-altitude long endurance (HALE) Unmanned Air System (UAS), with the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) – the world governing body for air sports, aeronautics and astronautics world records. The three records subject to ratification are the absolute duration record for an Unmanned Air Vehicle, the duration record for a UAV in the U/1.c / 50-500Kg category and the absolute altitude record for a UAV in that category of 70,740ft (21,561m).
After AeroVironment’s recent announcement that its Global Observer
unmanned aircraft system (UAS
) had successfully completed a series of Wing Load tests
the team apparently wasted no time getting the craft in the air for its maiden flight. On August 5 Global Observer 1001 took off from Edwards Air Force Base (EAFB) in California and climbed to an altitude of 4,000 feet where it performed a series of maneuvers before landing successfully one hour later.