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NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts

Virtual Flight Demonstration of Stratospheric Dual-Aircraft Platform

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Virtual Flight Demonstration of Stratospheric Dual-Aircraft Platform
The Dual-Aircraft Platform (DAP) is a patented concept for achieving a low-cost atmospheric satellite which utilizes wind shear as the primary energy source, and has the potential to stationkeep without a substantial energy storage system. DAP consists of two glider-like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) connected via a thin, ultra-strong cable which literally sails without propulsion, using levels of wind shear commonly found in lower Stratosphere (e.g., near 60,000-ft). The two aircraft are positioned at different altitudes, as far as 3,000-ft apart, to encounter substantially different wind velocities. The device operates similar in principle to a kite-surfer in which the upper aircraft, referred to as the SAIL, provides lift for both aircraft and aerodynamic thrust, while the lower aircraft, known as the BOARD, provides an upwind force to keep the platform from drifting downwind. Each aircraft extracts additional energy via solar film and possibly a wind turbine to operate the avionics, flight controls, payload, and for intermittent use of propulsion. More »

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