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In a significant achievement for India’s drone technology landscape, Bengaluru-based startup NewSpace Research and Technologies National has successfully completed the Winter Solstice flight test campaign for its solar-powered High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) prototype. This milestone was achieved as part of the Ministry of Defence’s Innovation for Defence Excellence (iDEX) challenge, conducted at the Aeronautical Test Range (ATR) in Chitradurga. The sub-scale demonstrator model showcased an impressive 21+ hours in the air, meeting all design goals for long-endurance flight.

The successful completion of the Winter Solstice flight test marks a pivotal moment for India’s venture into the stratosphere. NewSpace’s HAPS prototype, developed as part of the Combined Air Teaming System (CATS) programme under the unmanned drone warfare initiative, has met all design goals, unlocking new possibilities for high-altitude, long-endurance flight capabilities.

The HAPS technology holds immense promise for both defence and civilian sectors, particularly in telecommunication and remote sensing. Aligned with the CATS programme, the HAPS could play a crucial role in coordinated strike missions, providing versatile intelligence, surveillance, and communication capabilities to troops. The live video feeds and images delivered by the HAPS could significantly enhance situational awareness and response strategies in various scenarios.

The full-scale model of the HAPS is envisioned to weigh more than 500 kg, relying on solar energy for propulsion. Capable of flying at an altitude of 70,000 feet and sustaining prolonged periods in the stratosphere, this solar-powered drone holds the potential to revolutionize aerial capabilities, offering extended endurance and versatile applications.

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