The UAVOS and Stratodynamics HiDRON stratospheric glider unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reached 98,450 ft altitude on 2 August, breaking the aircraft's previous record of 82,021 ft, according to a UAVOS statement.
The UAVOS ground crew lifted the HiDRON by a balloon to the 98,425 feet target altitude and released it in -60°C stratospheric conditions. The aircraft transmitted data in real time to the ground station during a four-hour controlled descent.
Aliaksei Stratsilatau, UAVOS CEO and lead developer, told Jane's on 9 September that the company was able to raise the HiDRON's altitude record by making improvements to the control algorithms and hardware. He said, specifically, that UAVOS integrated additional heaters for tail servo drives to make a new flight from a higher altitude possible. Stratsilatau said the regular weather balloon that lifted the HiDRON did not require any additional modifications to reach the higher altitude.
Stratsilatau said the HiDRON usually takes about 9,843 ft of altitude (free fall) to recover after it is dropped. The aircraft accelerates up to 200 m/s true airspeed (TAS) before the calibrated airspeed reaches the bottom line of stall speed and the control surfaces of the glider are able to provide enough forces for stabilisation in low-density stratospheric air. The total flight time, Stratsilatau said, from the release to landing, can be up to five hours, depending on the drop-off altitude and how fast the autopilot manages the aircraft's re-entry.
This flight, which took place in Belarus, was the first of two flights commissioned to test a new mini-Extreme Universe Science Observation (EUSO) AMON Airglow detector from the Slovak Academy of Sciences Institute of Experimental Physics. Gary Pundsack, Stratodynamics founder and CEO, told Jane's on 9 September that the AMON Airglow detector is a 500 g payload that measures a faint light emitted by the planetary atmosphere.
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