General directional control of stratospheric balloons and creating a network of stratospheric balloon satellites

The Global Aerospace StratoSail® balloon guidance system (BGS) is designed to alter the flight path of balloons. The StratoSail® BGS takes advantage of the natural difference in wind speed at different altitudes in the atmosphere. A wing is suspended several kilometers below the balloon gondola using a long thin tether. The wing is hanging on end, so its “lift” acts sideways rather than upward as in an airplane. This sideways lift force is used to drag the balloon across the wind. This allows the balloon to be maneuvered towards regions of interest and away from unfavorable conditions.

The BGS can drive the balloon to sites of interest to scientists. Some governments do not give permission to fly over their countries. With a StratoSail® BGS aboard, the balloon can be directed around these uncooperative regions. Hazardous weather patterns can be avoided. Balloon flights may last many weeks and go around the world several times. At the end of a flight, the balloon can be redirected to land back near its launch site. This makes balloon operations much simpler.

Since wind speed varies at different altitudes, “this sideways lift force is used to drag the balloon across the wind,” according to a company description. “This allows the balloon to be maneuvered towards regions of interest and away from unfavorable conditions.” When paired with an aerostat, the StratoSail BGS could keep an aerial imagery platform on a predictable trajectory for months at a time.

When paired with an aerostat, the StratoSail BGS could keep an aerial imagery platform on a predictable trajectory for months at a time.

Solar sail aerostats can also carry advanced sensor “carriages” tailored to specific theaters of operations. Furthermore, the carriage can hold redundant capabilities, allowing a single aerostat to support multiple missions simultaneously.

When applied in s constellation, aerostat sensor coverage can extend across the theater and obfuscate the need for high-cost assets such as satellites, drones and manned aircraft.

At the annual meeting of the Global Disaster Information Network in Rome, Italy last month, Global Aerospace Corporation introduced a new type of satellite that can provide communications and remote sensing data for disasters in remote areas of the world with no technological infrastructure.

The new satellites, Stratospheric Satellites, consist of NASA-developed “super-pressure balloons” that fly at 110,000 feet, combined with steering systems and a solar array used for power. They can carry remote sensing or telecommunications payloads up to 2000 kg, roughly the size and weight of a small truck

In February, 2016, Global Aerospace Corporation announced that it has been awarded a $500,000 Phase II contract from NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) to develop a revolutionary concept for networks of stratospheric balloons. Networks of superpressure balloons can help scientists to study many major environmental problems. Changes involving tropical circulation and radiation balances, polar ozone depletion, and global ocean productivity could be easily studied from a global or regional network of instrumented balloons. These networks could assist in pollution monitoring, hurricane forecasting and tracking, and global circulation studies. As the cost of satellite and aircraft operations continues to increase, the need for a less expensive system becomes more apparent.

SOURCES – Global Aerospace, NASA, War is boring

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