Stratospheric exploration craft aloft for more than a month - GPS World

Stratospheric exploration craft aloft for more than a month

October 3, 2019  - By
Image: GPS World

World View, the stratospheric exploration company, has reached an important milestone representing a key step toward persistent and navigational stratospheric flight.

After achieving the goal of more than 30 days aloft with full navigational control, the Stratollite completed its 32-day mission over the weekend, showcasing its enhanced long-duration flight capability.

Before this mission, the longest Stratollite flight was 16 days, achieved in June 2019. This mission moves World View closer to scaled commercial operations, making the unique data and information sets it can provide available to commercial and government Earth-observation and remote-sensing customers around the world.

Notable accomplishments from the mission:

  • Executed four continuous days of station-keeping (mission objective) with an average distance of 20 km from the first predetermined target location, followed by an intentional navigation to the second station-keeping target location 1,230 km away.
  • Achieved 2.5 days of continuous station keeping at the second station-keeping target with an average of 40 km from the second target location.
  • Averaged an altitude of 19.5 km during both station-keeping exercises.
  • Traveled more than 11,200 km during the mission, covering Arizona, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas.
  • Demonstrated complete navigational control during the mission from World View’s remote Mission Control in Tucson, Arizona.
  • The total mission duration was 32 days, 5 hours and 14 minutes
  • Executed more than 1,000 trajectory-control maneuvers over the entire mission.

“This is another encouraging milestone for the team and our customers that confirms we are on the right track,” said Ryan Hartman, World View president and CEO. “It sets the stage for a challenging set of missions ahead of us as we continue to push the envelope and demonstrate the ability of the Stratollite to meet customer requirements.”

World View’s flight operations team landed the Stratollite at a predetermined landing zone in Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 28, to conclude the mission. The system landed on command, was recovered, and will be refurbished for reuse on future missions.

World View will continue to increase the cadence of its Stratollite flight operations. The company plans to launch multiple missions focused on demonstrating optical imaging and synthetic aperture radar sensing systems with further enhancement of station-keeping and navigational performance.

About the Stratollite. World View’s Stratollite is a long-endurance stratospheric flight vehicle capable of station-keeping over areas of interest for remote sensing and communications.

The craft can travel 95,000 feet above the Earth. World View is already routinely flying payloads to the edge of space for a wide variety of government, commercial, and education customers.

World View’s proprietary altitude-control technology allows it to harness stratospheric winds to steer the Stratollite to and from desired locations and loiter above them for long durations.

Stratollites can carry a wide variety of commercial payloads (sensors, telescopes, communications arrays, etc.), launch rapidly on demand, and safely return payloads back to Earth after mission completion.

Among its wide variety of uses, the Stratollite will help researchers greatly advance knowledge of planet Earth, improve our ability to identify and track severe weather, and assist first responders during natural disasters.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.