Very High-Altitude Propulsion System (VHAPS)
Aurora is currently conducting a DARPA-sponsored SBIR Phase II project to examine
propulsion alternatives for very high altitude UAV use. DARPA’s initial interest
was in low-speed, long-endurance flight at altitudes. Aurora showed through analysis
that higher operating speeds were possible while still retaining specific fuel consumption
numbers necessary for operational utility.
Aurora refined mass estimates, updated performance estimates, and identified areas
of highest technical risk. Aurora’s analysis showed that development of these innovative
propulsion concepts was possible, and that the estimated performance of the concepts
made such development worthwhile. Aurora also conducted hardware testing of key
engine components to show feasibility and to validate analytical models.