Purpose of the flight and payload description

The High Altitude Shuttle System (HASS) is a lifting body-shaped gliding unmanned aerial system developed by Near Space Corporation aimed to carry new technologies to high altitude for testing and then released to fly back and land in semi-autonomous flight. At left can be seen an image of the HASS in flight (click to enlarge).

Standard HASS platforms can lift payloads of up to 10 kg to altitudes of 28 km for flights of up to six hours. Non-standard options include higher altitudes and longer flight durations. For HASS, the primary payload bay is comprised of the center section of the Shuttle with payload attachment and access provided through its bottom hatch. This composite payload tray/hatch serves as the 'framework' onto which the payload is mounted. The standard HASS avionics suite is mounted on the forward part of the tray just prior to launch. All other real estate on the payload tray is available for primary payload use within the enclosed physical constraints of the Shuttle center-body, the 10 kg maximum payload weight limit, and specified center of gravity constraints.

The HASS semi-autonomously can return payloads to pre-specified landing sites, allowing payloads to be rapidly turned around and reused in reflights. Other caracteristics of the platform are an enhanced flight path control from release thru landing, iterative payload changes between frequent, high altitude flight tests and high quality reduced gravity parabolic flights. Combining HASS with NSC's Tactical Balloon Launch System (TBLS) is also possible to launch the glider under a balloon in winds up to 30 knots with a minimal crew of 2 or 3 persons from remote sites.

Details of the balloon flight

Balloon launched on: 9/26/2016
Launch site: Naval Air Station Tillamook, Oregon, US  
Balloon launched by: Near Space Corporation (NSC)
Balloon manufacturer/size/composition: Zero Pressure Balloon  
Flight identification number: HASS-03
End of flight (L for landing time, W for last contact, otherwise termination time): 9/26/2016

The objective of the flight was to test a high-altitude glider to help evaluate how advanced surveillance technologies could be used to track winged vehicles returning from space.

The balloon was launched by Near Space Corporation from the Jhonson Near Space Center in Tillamook, Oregon on September 26, 2016. Once the balloon carried the glider to an altitude of 70.000 ft a radio signal from the ground released it. The vehicle followed a preprogrammed glide path, under the close supervision of a chase plane, until a pilot on the ground directed the drone in for a safe landing on the runway at the Tillamook airport.

External references

Images of the mission


If you consider that this website is interesting or useful, you can help to keep it running with just the equivalent of the price of a cup of coffee. Click on the button on the right for more information.