CIMNE will perform a series of flight test of the inflatable technology during the second half of January 2016 in collaboration with the German company Trans Atmospheric Operations (TAO). The SkyDragon platform will be launched to an altitude of 20-km high to validate the use of the inflatable technology as a permanent high-altitude platform for telecommunications, surveillance and emergencies.
The SkyDragon technology, developed by TAO, is a high altitude platform (HAP) for telecommunication and data transfer. It is endowed with highly sophisticated electronic and controlling systems that allow flying up autonomously to an altitude of 20 km in the stratosphere.
SkyDragon is a segmented airship able to use various propulsion systems, with its segments filled with helium. It can be used to provide an intense data transfer above a predetermined area. For example, it may become very useful after a natural hazard, when the ground infrastructure is temporarily down.
It is also important to highlight the increasing need in fast data transfer in general (wireless, TV broad band) at a global scale. SkyDragon is also able to supplement existing capacities in infrastructures above areas of high population density as large city areas.
CIMNE has been doing research on inflatable structures since 2000, and on shell membranes since long ago. Both technologies have been used for the simulation and validation of inflatable structures applied to a large number of engineering applications (aeronautical and civil engineering, among others).