In a series of flights between June 1-6, 2021, Stratodynamics Inc. launched its HiDRON stratospheric glider from a high-altitude balloon at Spaceport America in New Mexico. HiDRON carried technology supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program for the first time. The uncrewed HiDRON stratospheric glider from Stratodynamics is designed to release from a sounding balloon at near-space altitude, enabling a controlled descent for technology payloads aboard. The glider also achieves higher velocity than a balloon flight alone – one of the reasons NASA-supported researchers from the University of Kentucky chose Stratodynamics as the flight provider for testing of turbulence detection instruments.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration: “Clear air turbulence is air movement created by atmospheric pressure, jet streams, air around mountains, cold or warm weather fronts or thunderstorms. It can be unexpected and can happen when the sky appears to be clear.” Turbulence can be dangerous and has been know to injure passengers on commercial flights.
The series of flights aimed to help researchers assess the performance of a wind probe from the University of Kentucky and an infrasonic microphone sensor developed by researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, which Stratodynamics licensed from NASA in 2020. Together, the instruments are designed to aid turbulence detection for remote-piloted and autonomous aerial vehicles, including commercial aircraft and on-demand delivery drones.
Image Credit: Stratodynamics, Inc./UAVOS