A balloon-launched, fixed-wing UAV has achieved a flight altitude of 98,450 feet (30 km) during a beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight. Canada’s Stratodynamics Aviation reported the flight of its Hidron stratospheric glider earlier last week. The flight is one of two scheduled to test the Slovak Academy of Science’s mini extreme universe science observation AMON airglow detector. The Hidron is equipped with stratospheric flight dynamics, datalinks, and autopilot and flew a pre-programmed flight back to earth.
The Slovakian team chose the AMON-equipped Hidron as it offered a clear view of the zenith and nadir unencumbered by a weather balloon. The detector is scheduled to fly again in 2022 on a long-duration NASA balloon. The Hidron was released in high stratospheric winds at an outside air temperature of -76 degrees F and transmitted data in real time to its ground station during its four-hour descent.
A second Hidron flight with the Amon package is scheduled for the next few days with the goal of launching the glider from an altitude of 114,000 feet. The launch will take place at the Canadian Space Agency’s Stratos balloon launch facility at Timmins, Ontario.
“Our unique method of collecting high-quality large datasets from hard to reach locations offers clients new, cost-effective access to stratospheric altitudes,” said Stratodynamics’ CEO Gary Pundsack.