Low-Stored-Volume Wings for a Very High Altitude Aircraft

Period of Performance: 01/30/2008 - 09/17/2008

$99K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Andrews Space, Inc.
3415 South 116th Street, Suite 123
Tukwila, WA 98168
Principal Investigator

Abstract

Andrews Space proposes an inflatable rigidizable wing that can be stored folded or rolled up, and deployed at altitude via an inflation system, and will then cure to form a rigid wing improving the reliability and reducing the risk of an inflatable wing. It will also be much lighter and have a much smaller storage volume than a mechanically folding wing. A high altitude, long endurance aircraft can be delivered to high altitude by either flying it up from the ground or by deploying it at altitude by rocket. For rocket deployment the wings must have a low storage volume, so it can be packaged into a payload fairing. Inflatable wings are ideally suited to this mission since they provide the smallest storage volume possible. An inflatable rigidizable wing has the advantage that once rigid it would no longer need internal pressure to support it, thereby greatly improving the reliability and reducing the risks. Since it will only need internal pressure for a short duration, a small leak will not pose a significant threat to the mission. The longer the intended duration the more important it is to have a rigid wing that doesn t require internal gas pressure support.