Aurora Flight Sciences' legacy building Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for atmospheric
and earth research has made it a world leader in the development of high altitude,
long endurance UAVs.
Since 1989, Aurora's engineers have unraveled the peculiar problems that face slow-flying,
high altitude aircraft. From the company's expertise in low Reynolds number aerodynamics
to the unique power plants designed for the Perseus A and Perseus B aircraft, no
company, large or small, can match Aurora's experience developing high altitude,
Aurora's Perseus B is powered by a heavily modified, triple turbocharged Rotax engine
that propelled the aircraft to 62,000 feet, the world altitude record for a single
engine, propeller-driven aircraft.
Perseus A was designed to fly even higher than Perseus B. To make higher altitude
flight possible, the aircraft is powered by a closed-loop engine that burns gasoline,
cryogenically stored oxygen and recirculated engine exhaust gasses.
Aurora's Theseus A and Theseus B are powered by turboprop engines and designed to
carry large sensor and scientific payloads very high and keep them aloft for extended
One of the key enablers of the company's HALE design activities is the experience
many of Aurora's engineers have designing and building human powered aircraft. During
the 1970s and 80s, several members of Aurora's engineering and management staff
were involved in world-class human-powered flight programs. The composite aerostructure
and airfoil designs that made human powered flight possible translate directly to
the aerodynamic and weight requirements of high altitude long endurance aircraft.
While Aurora's structural engineering staff applies its experience to develop HALE
aircraft designs, Aurora's propulsion engineers utilize the company's Ultra High
Altitude Test Facility, or UHATF. UHATF is a large test chamber that accurately
simulates atmospheric temperature and pressure conditions up to 65,000 feet. The
UHATF allows Aurora's engineers to develop and test propulsion technologies at altitude
without leaving the ground.
As new technologies emerge, Aurora will remain on the forefront of HALE aircraft
design, pushing aerospace technology and aircraft performance to their limits.