It was a flight for the record books according to Stratodynamics, but it was also an important milestone in the company’s quest to further research on climate change and atmospheric chemistry.
It was last December that Stratodynamics announced it had completed a test flight to 25 km of its HiDRON glider, an important milestone for the company at the time. The next target would be a test flight to 30 km.
Yesterday, Stratodynamics announced it had met that milestone and then some on a September 1 flight.
The HiDRON glider is new type of earth observation platform, partly funded by the Canadian Space Agency, that is being developed by Stratodynamics to initially collect high-altitude atmospheric data.
The glider is carried to the stratosphere on a Canadian Space Agency high-altitude balloon where it is released. At that point the glider makes its way back to the ground collecting valuable atmospheric data.
According to the company, their HiDRON glider was released at 111,434 feet (33.9 km) in this its most recent test, achieving the following firsts in Canadian Aviation:
- Highest altitude flight of a UAV or Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS). RPAS is the name used by Transport Canada to encompass UAVs.
- First UAV above 29,000 feet in Class A airspace.
- First release of a UAV from a scientific gondola in Canada.
- A Pioneering International Collaboration
The flight upon release took four hours the and glider landed at Iroquois Falls Airport about 80 km from the Timmins, Ontario launch site.
Commenting on the latest flight Gary Pundsack, CEO Stratodynamics said “we are extremely pleased with the outcome of this pioneering flight in Canadian Aviation, and the spirit of collaboration that enabled this successful campaign. Special thanks goes to our colleagues at Transport Canada and NAV Canada who provided considerable efforts to enable these firsts in Canadian Aviation. The Canadian Space Agency and the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales also provided great support and assistance. And thanks to the Iroquois Falls Cadet Flying site who graciously provided use of their facilities. The September 1st flight once again confirmed the STRATODYNAMICS’ capability to perform high-altitude missions and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations and set a new operational best for the HiDRON’s flight in challenging stratospheric environment.”
The Canadian Space Agency has been supporting Stratodynamics as part of its beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capability program. The flight was also supported by the French Space Agency (CNES) as part of this years Strato-Science Balloon campaign.
Other participants in the flight included UAVOS Inc. which provided Stratodynamics with its AP 10.3 Micro autopilot system.
The Institute of Experimental Physics at the Slovak Academy of Science, a client of Stratodynamics, provided the AMON Airglow detector for testing.