Researchers at Imperial College London are supporting the design of solar-powered high-altitude pseudosatellites. A major challenge is the prediction of the dynamics of vehicles near the ground, which currently puts severe constraints on their take-off and landing windows.
To address this, Imperial researchers have built a state-of-the-art nonlinear aeroelastic flight simulator for very flexible vehicles. The simulator allows configuration analysis and aeroelastic/flight control design, which has been verified against the University of Michigan X-HALE demonstrator. It has been further interfaced with large-eddy simulations of the local conditions at the atmospheric boundary layer. This gives new insight to optimise both vehicle configurations and flight control strategies for safe performance near the ground.
To find out more about the project, please see Imperial’s website.
For further information, contact Professor Rafael Palacios, Department of Aeronautics, Imperial College London.