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India’s National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) is soaring high with its High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) project, recently completing successful flight tests of a subscale model. This innovative platform holds promise for various applications, including communication, surveillance, and environmental monitoring.

From January 23rd to February 2nd, NAL conducted extensive test flights at DRDO’s Aeronautical Test Range in Karnataka. The 12-meter wingspan subscale model, weighing just 22 kg, completed 22 sorties and logged a total of 37 flight hours.

“The aircraft met or exceeded all the performance metrics,” confirms Dr. L. Venkatakrishnan, NAL’s Chief Scientist and HAPS program director. Notably, the model achieved an endurance of over 8.5 hours and climbed to an altitude of nearly 3 km above sea level. Additional tests assessed climb rate, manoeuvrability, and single-engine operation, showcasing the platform’s stability and versatility.

Potential Applications Take Off:

HAPS offers a wide range of potential applications, including:

  • Communication: Bridging connectivity gaps in remote areas and providing emergency communication solutions.
  • Surveillance: Enhancing border security by monitoring activities and preventing illegal activities.
  • Environmental Monitoring: Air quality assessment, tracking deforestation, and monitoring agricultural land.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has also expressed interest in developing HAPS technology. Collaborating with startups like NewSpace Research and Technologies, HAL has allocated ?42 crore for a prototype development project.

These successful tests signify a significant step towards realizing the potential of HAPS technology in India. Further development, including larger prototypes and operational deployments, could revolutionize communication, surveillance, and environmental monitoring capabilities across the country and beyond.

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