HAPSMobile, a developer of high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) technologies, has announced that it has received a limited flight release from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) Airworthiness and Flight Safety Review Board to conduct a test flight of the HAWK30 solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in restricted airspace.
AFRC will be responsible for ground and range safety for the HAWK30 UAV during the flight tests. HAPSMobile, a joint venture between AeroVironment and Japanese telecoms company Softbank, aims to use the HAWK30 as a stratospheric telecommunications platform. This will be the first test flight of the system.
Ground tests of the HAWK30 were previously carried out at AFRC’s facilities in California. Following lower-altitude test flights and other preparational activities, HAPSMobile will then seek to accelerate preparations to perform stratospheric test flights at the Hawaiian island of Lanai.
Junichi Miyakawa, Representative Director & CTO of SoftBank Corp., and also President & CEO of HAPSMobile Inc., commented: “We are extremely pleased to receive NASA’s official test flight approval, which will enable us to take a major step forward to commercially use the stratosphere. We will conduct a test flight rapidly at AFRC so we can prepare for stratospheric test flights in Lanai. We will continue to work toward our goal of bridging the world’s digital divide and revolutionizing mobile networks by leveraging HAPS.”