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UK drone to stay aloft for three MONTHS

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UK drone to stay aloft for three MONTHS

Old 11th Sep 2015, 17:42
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UK drone to stay aloft for three MONTHS

All not quite finished, it seems for Britain's aeronautical industry leading the world....

Royal Aeronautical Society | Insight Blog | Staying power ? UK superdrone targets three months aloft

Interesting where its being built - and possible military/civ uses for something that can orbit over your head a quarter of a year...
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 20:14
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Certainly a cheap replacement to expensive beyond line of sight communications. Satellites ain't cheap!
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 22:27
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This is a great technology that's developing quickly, but seems to still have a ways to go. The new Zyphyr8 will only have a 5 kg payload and that payload will be rather power limited. But higher payload and higher power versions are already on the drawing boards.

A similar technology is now developing that uses microwave power panels rather than solar. A ground based microwave transmitter beams power up to the pseudo satellite, potentially providing not only much more power but also continuous power (no loss of power at night). The biggest hitch in that get along is understanding what happens when a bird (or an airplane) flies through the microwave power beam.
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 22:29
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Small satellites are cheap.
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 23:39
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When this happens, Chris Kelleher will be smiling down on it from above.
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Old 11th Sep 2015, 23:43
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CM,

Small satellites are cheap, putting them in a geostationary orbit is [email protected]#king expensive.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 00:32
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FWIW
*Currently* smallsats are generally not rad-hard, have minuscule power budgets, low gain antenna's and abysmal success rates. Thus are generally f&*k all practical use in geostationary orbit (premium real estate). It will change, but not yet.

There's a hell of a lot more going on with persistent platforms in the stratosphere then Airbus's effort, and behind a lot of unexpected new players doors too. Big changes are coming.
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Old 12th Sep 2015, 15:24
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This is the key para:

However, in a clarification to the press, AirbusDS is at pains to make clear that it is still early days yet and nothing has been signed. "We have ambitions, and are expecting to secure contracts for Zephyr in the near future. But no contracts are in place with the UK MoD, or Singapore or Germany." it said. - See more at: Royal Aeronautical Society | Insight Blog | Staying power ? UK superdrone targets three months aloft

ION,

I am aware of other activity in this 'space' but would be interested to know who the unexpected players are? PM
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 06:44
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Can someone cleverer than me let us know what you can actually achieve with the current 5Kg payload and what the aspirational 20 and 40Kg payloads would offer?
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 14:26
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Can someone also inform the debate on how these devices perform in high latitudes in winter. I suspect there is a band around the equator where they work well become worse as you move to the poles. Intuitively I think the point at which they start to become limited is going to be about 35degrees rapidly falling off to no capability for 6 months of the year as you pass the Artic/ Antarctic circles.

Blasting the things with micro waves assumes a degree of freed to operate from the surface.
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 15:40
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I'm not in the know but there is quite a lot of information in the article:

Generation 1 and Generation 2 will lift the payload capability from the Zephyr 8's 5kg to 20kg and then 40kg respectively, while also adding more power (the Gen 2 would have 1 kilowatt). This will open up heavier, more capable payloads, such as more sophisticated IR/EO sensors or advanced radars.
So: radar and IR/EO sensors.

And on the theme of radar:

Indeed, speaking at a pre-DSEI briefing, Steve Whitby, HAPS Business Development, at AirbusDS revealed that the hollow structure and its long 35m wingspan would open up possibilities of fitting phased array radar modules to turn the drone into a giant radar antenna. This could conceivably provide an unmanned AWACS-type platform equipped with a sensitive radar the capability to detect stealth and LO aircraft, missiles or drones. Networking two such AESA-equipped drones together would provide an even more capable counter-stealth capability.
For the sake of it I looked up a Surrey University concept for producing a 150kg SAR satellite of which the bus is about 100kg and the SAR payload 50. Doesn't mean a huge amount obviously:

https://www.google.com.tr/url?sa=t&r...02537793,d.bGQ
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 16:52
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......didn't the Shackleton do that?

i had a trip once.....
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 16:59
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Originally Posted by O-P View Post
CM,

Small satellites are cheap, putting them in a geostationary orbit is [email protected]#king expensive.
You can get an aweful lot of microsats on a single launcher though & SpaceX will reduce the launch cost dramatically..

CubeSat | Small Satellite | Nanosatellite | Power | Batteries | Solar Panel | DC DC Converter | CubeSat Shop | Spacecraft
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 18:15
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t46532,

Mate, I had read the article! I just have no idea what EO/IR sensor or radar you can get for that weight budget.

My sneaking suspicion is 'not a great deal' but I was hoping someone knew what current weight vs capability was. My own experience with advanced targeting pods would suggest that even if you got to 40Kg you could carry the front fifth of a Sniper...which seems to lack utility...
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 18:35
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I built one of those out of balsa wood and tissue paper when I was eight. They fly really well but tend to be a bit flammable when taking a wing warp out with a naked flame.

Don't ask me how I know this - it was traumatic, as was the after-incident explanation to my dad.
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 18:54
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My sneaking suspicion is 'not a great deal' but I was hoping someone knew what current weight vs capability was. My own experience with advanced targeting pods would suggest that even if you got to 40Kg you could carry the front fifth of a Sniper...which seems to lack utility...
A lot of that 40Kg could be down to the flight loads it would see on the type of platform on which it flew. Given the benign conditions in which Zephyr operates, a lot of material might be removed or replaced with lighter alternatives.
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Old 13th Sep 2015, 22:55
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Originally Posted by NorthernKestrel View Post
All not quite finished, it seems for Britain's aeronautical industry leading the world....

Interesting where its being built - and possible military/civ uses for something that can orbit over your head a quarter of a year...
Has no one told Qinetiq they don't own the airfield any more? Their predecessors, DRA and DERA, were only too keen to get rid of it.
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Old 14th Sep 2015, 01:19
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glad-rag,

How much does it cost to put a 30kg pay-load into a geo static orbit, then maintain that orbit for, say, 72 months?

Chucking a bunch off 1-30kg cubes in to low earth orbit is not quite the same as geo-stationary. If you can put multiple UAVs into a sub-space geo position hold, jobs a good 'un. No?
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Old 14th Sep 2015, 01:32
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Back in the mid 80's the power by microwave was taken up and produced at DRES.
Bearing in mind the equipment available at the time it worked ok.
Biggest problem was water vapor, higher you went the beam scattered/diffused enough to make it not really practical or cost effective.
Not many birds around when the testing was done.
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Old 14th Sep 2015, 08:37
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Solar Impulse 2 already comes pretty close to perpetual flight - afaik it's limited by the pilot It can carry a payload of a few hundred kg I think. Cruises at 27'000 ft though, obviously limited by weather. Also limited by overheating batteries on it's last 76 hour leg... Interesting technology though, people kept saying this has no practical applications, but I'm sure they can be found, and the technology will mature

Last edited by deptrai; 14th Sep 2015 at 08:56.
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