Airbus’ high-endurance stratosphere drone, the Zephyr S, has set a brand new altitude document for an Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in its class, hovering to 76,100 ft (23,915 m) within the skies over Arizona throughout two flights totaling 36 days aloft.
The most recent check flights of the solar-powered Excessive Altitude Platform System (HAPS) had been geared toward not solely setting new data, but in addition the extra sensible objectives of transferring the Zephyr S to operational standing. This included carrying totally different payloads, demonstrating exact stratospheric maneuverability and station-keeping over factors on the bottom, testing the corporate’s Optical Superior Earth Remark system for Zephyr (OPAZ) payload for streaming Earth remark knowledge, and securing US FAA approval to fly contained in the US Nationwide Airspace System.
The latter is especially vital as a result of the Zephyr S must function in a semi-autonomous mode exterior of restricted airspace and within the stratosphere above industrial air site visitors. The 887 hours clocked in flights of 18 days every within the newest assessments, which wrapped up on September 13, brings the overall for the Zephyr to 2,435 stratospheric flight hours.
Although the Zephyr is being developed for a variety of markets for functions together with communications with the protection equal of 250 cell towers, border surveillance, and environmental monitoring, its chief buyer is the UK Ministry of Defence, which sees the platform as a possible pseudo-satellite for command and management capabilities. If satellite tv for pc knowledge hyperlinks are misplaced, a squad of Zephyrs may circle over an space for months at a time to take care of communications and reconnaissance.
The Zephyr S is the most important of the Zephyr line, weighing in at 75 kg (165 lb) regardless of having a wingspan of 28 m (92 ft). It will probably carry a payload of 5 kg (11 lb) and stay aloft for as much as 26 days because of banks of Amprius lithium-ion batteries totaling 24 kg (53 lb) which can be charged through the day by skinny, versatile, high-efficiency gallium-arsenide photo voltaic cells mounted on the wings.
“Working with Airbus and the Zephyr staff through the 2021 flight marketing campaign, vital progress has been made in direction of demonstrating HAPS as a functionality,” says James Gavin, Future Functionality Group Head at Defence Gear & Assist, the procurement arm of the UK Ministry of Defence. “This summer season’s actions characterize an vital step in direction of rationalizing the stratosphere.”