MOBILITY AND TRANSPORT: Flying Lightness - Design and manufacturing of a high-altitude pseudo-satellite
Themes: Mobility & Transport
Luman Aerospace is a spin-off from the TU Delft faculty of Aerospace Engineering, dedicated to the development of high-altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS).
HAPS, also called atmospheric satellites, are unmanned aircraft that fly at extremely high altitude, usually above 20 000 meters, for extended periods of time and can therefore fulfill the same roles as conventional orbit-based satellites. These aircraft are powered by solar panels, allowing them to produce more power than required during the day and store sufficient excess power in batteries in order to sustain flight throughout the night. As a result, atmospheric satellites can remain airborne for weeks or even months, only needing to land for maintenance.
To achieve such extraordinarily efficient flight requires pushing the boundary in lightweight design, which is where Luman Aerospace seeks to innovate. To do so, we took inspiration from a time in which lightweight materials did not exist and aircraft builders had to rely on efficient structures in order to be light enough to fly. By combining the lessons learnt from the past with the most modern materials, we have developed a composite structure and aircraft platform that is significantly lighter and thereby, in theory, outperforms all other HAPS concepts available today.
Multiple structural tests and two small-scale prototypes with successful test flights have shown that our design behaves as expected, reassuring our belief that we have a ground breaking aircraft concept for HAPS applications.