Defence

India Is Achieving Impressive Feats To Make High Altitude Pseudo Satellites A Reality, Here’s One More

Ujjwal Shrotryia

May 23, 2024, 06:02 PM | Updated 06:16 PM IST


NewSpace Research HAPS. (X/@joe_sameer)
NewSpace Research HAPS. (X/@joe_sameer)

India is making quick progress in making High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS) a reality.

HAPS are lightweight, solar-powered drones that fly at very high altitudes of more than 90,000 feet for extended durations.

These HAPS occupy a middle ground between high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) drones and satellites. They fly higher and for longer periods than traditional drones, while flying lower than low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Earth observation satellites (EOS) orbiting in LEO can only surveil a specific location for just a minute or so in a single pass.

HAPS, on the other hand, can do so for a very long time, typically for many weeks at a stretch. The NewSpace HAPS is expected to have an endurance of 90 days.

This makes HAPS an ideal platform for surveillance over an area for extended periods.

Less than a fortnight ago, a Bengaluru-based startup, NewSpace Research, demonstrated 27 hours of endurance by its HAPS scaled prototype at 26,000 feet. It had earlier displayed an endurance of 21 hours in December last year.

CSIR-NAL's solar powered HAPS. (X/ @CSIRNALOFFICIAL)
CSIR-NAL's solar powered HAPS. (X/ @CSIRNALOFFICIAL)

NewSpace has already received a contract from the Indian Navy, which was signed just two months ago (in March).

Three months ago, in February, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research National Aerospace Laboratory (CSIR-NAL) lab demonstrated a flight endurance of 8 hours and 30 minutes at 3 kilometres (less than 10,000 feet altitude) with a scaled model of its own HAPS.

This month, on 11 May, this model flew at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

CSIR-NAL high altitude pseudo satellite scaled model carrying a prototype, Galaxyeye Space, SAR sensor below the belly. (X/ @thesuyashsingh)
CSIR-NAL high altitude pseudo satellite scaled model carrying a prototype, Galaxyeye Space, SAR sensor below the belly. (X/ @thesuyashsingh)

This flight also carried a prototype synthetic aperture radar (SAR) sensor, which is essentially a radar sensor that can produce high-resolution imagery of any landscape.

Moreover, this imagery is not limited by weather, rain, or clouds. Typically, an optical camera's vision is limited by bad weather, where visibility is affected by dense clouds or rain.

According to an India Today report, GalaxyEye Space, an IIT Madras incubated and Bengaluru-based startup, has developed this SAR sensor.

These cutting-edge SAR sensors installed on HAPS can provide persistent high-resolution imagery of enemy targets over a long period of time. This could help the Indian armed forces create an accurate picture of the enemy's intentions.


Staff Writer at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.

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