NASA and GA-ASI partner to bring command-and-control satellite link to Predator B drone

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-Engineers at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI) will develop and flight test new command-and-control satellite link capabilities on Ikhana, a Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS).

"With growing interest in using remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) for civil missions, we expect our work with NASA to open the door for increased confidence in operating these aircraft in the National Airspace System," explains Frank Pace, president of the Aircraft Systems Group at GA-ASI. "We are pleased to renew our commitment to NASA and to help expand the utility of Ikhana to Arctic missions."

NASA and General Atomics are developing a satellite control link for the Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle, shown above.
NASA and General Atomics are developing a satellite control link for the Predator B unmanned aerial vehicle, shown above.

NASA and GA-ASI, working under a no-cost Space Act Agreement, will upgrade the command-and-control system of NASA's MQ-9 Predator B to enable aircraft operations in more remote geographical regions. The upgraded aircraft will be used to conduct systems testing and evaluation flights.

"The system improvements enabled by this agreement expand the utility of the Ikhana MQ-9 for NASA science and the development of technology required for unmanned air systems to fly in the national airspace," says NASA Dryden Center Director David McBride. "Both are key national priorities that benefit from this government/industry cooperative effort."

"This new capability will allow Ikhana to support NASA science missions at higher latitudes where many important geophysical processes must be studied," says Bob Curry, NASA Dryden chief scientist. "In recent years, unmanned aircraft have demonstrated transformational opportunities for Earth science airborne research, particularly due to their very long endurance capability. They can also reduce the need to expose aircrew to remote and unforgiving environments."

NASA is using the aircraft in advanced flight research activities, including those paving the way for opening up the National Airspace System (NAS) to unmanned aircraft systems operation, in addition to its role in advancing science.

The next mission for NASA's Predator B aircraft, planned for the summer of 2013, is the Marginal Ice Zone Observations and Processes Experiment (MIZOPEX). NASA will provide the aircraft system and its associated engineering, technical, and operational staff to support Ikhana's mission to carry science instruments designed to investigate ice changes in the Arctic.

James Maslanik of the University of Colorado at Boulder leads the MIZOPEX team of scientists; the science project manager is John Adler of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ikhana was manufactured by GA-ASI and delivered to NASA in 2006.

Ikhana carried the NASA-developed Autonomous Modular Scanner for the multi-year Western States Fire Mission in 2007 and 2008 that investigated fires in the Western United States, especially California. Working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the remotely piloted aircraft flew in the NAS, with its sensor delivering near-real-time wildfire information to incident commanders in the field.

Ikhana, capable of reaching altitudes above 40,000 feet and flying for more than 20 hours, underwent a major retrofit that included integrating redundant avionics, wingtip antennas, laser altimeters, centerline hard points, and greater electrical power generation capability.


Easily post a comment below using your Linkedin, Twitter, Google or Facebook account.


Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

F-SIM-LDR ARINC 615A Data Loader

AIT's F-SIM-LDR, or Flight Simulyzer Loader, is a complete ARINC-615A Data Loader development kit...

cPCI-1760-SW-4

AceXtreme® Bridge Device - Smart Protocol Converter

DDC’s AceXtreme Bridge Device converts avionics messages in real time between Ethernet, MIL-STD-1...

Low Voltage Power Supplies for Avionics

Crane Aerospace & Electronics has over 50 years of experience in the design and manufacture of hi...

Transformer Rectifier Units (TRUs)

As the world’s leading supplier of Transformer Rectifier Units (TRUs) for commercial aircraft sin...

RAR-USB

The RAR-USB is an ARINC 429 USB 2.0 adaptor that provides up to sixteen totally independent recei...

DW 251

DW 251 has been developed for specific use in aerospace and aircraft electrical and wiring applic...

Aircraft gearboxes

Positronic's Front Runner Connectors

The Front Runner Series offers a multiplicity of connector features which makes it a first choice...

ANET1553 / ANET429 Ethernet modules

New Ethernet Avionics Databus solutions for MIL-STD-1553A/B and ARINC429 are available. Test & Si...

Related Companies

CES - Creative Electronic Systems SA

Has been designing and manufacturing complex high-performance avionics, defense and communication boards, subsystems ...

Boker's Inc

Boker's, Inc. can manufacture your flat washers, spacers and shims with an outside diameter from 0.080" to 12" and ma...

DLS Electronic Systems Inc

Provides EMC/EMI & Environmental testing to MIL-STD 461-A-F, MIL-STD 810 & RTCA DO-160-C-G, Boeing, Airbus FAA AC20-1...

MICCAVIONICS GmbH

Highly innovative, integrated time-critical solutions of an information mission management and command and control sy...

Speel Praha Ltd

Offers avionics systems, including aircraft monitoring systems, crash-protected solid-state flight data/cockpit voice...

Digital Systems Engineering Inc (DSE)

Harsh-duty ruggedized flat-panel display design and manufacturing for airborne, military, and marine surveillance app...

Astro-Med

Designs and manufactures ruggedized printers and Ethernet switches used in demanding military and defense application...

StacoSystems

Provides LED push button display switches and control solutions, subsystems, and rugged keyboards and keypads for com...

LAI International Inc

LAI International is a leading contract manufacturer of make-complete precision-engineered components and assemblies ...

Interpoint

Supplies high-density, high-reliability Interpoint microelectronics, DC/DC converters and EMI filters to the aerospac...
Wire News provided by   

social activity

Webcasts

Meeting the Gen3 backplane challenge with OpenVPX and COTS

Tight Pentagon budgets mean military systems must stay in the field for longer than ever before. This doesn't mean obsolete technology, however. Today's military electronics are being upgraded constantly, an...
Sponsored by:

Digital signal processing for signals intelligence and electronic warfare

Military & Aerospace Electronics presents an expert Webcast on the design considerations for blending general-purposes processors (GPUs), general-purpose graphics processors (GPGPUs), field-programmable ...
Sponsored by:

Advantages of Intel Architecture Products and Wind River Solutions in Military & Aerospace Applications

This webinar explains the individual advantages of the Intel Architecture hardware, available for long-life supply, and the WRS software portfolio.  There are extraordinary advantages of combining such ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

View the 2014 Buyer's Guide Now!


Mil & Aero Magazine

September 2014
Volume 25, Issue 9
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE