September 22, 2022
During a technical session at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), Outpost presented a paper on the findings of its two successful flight tests of its autonomous paraglider re-entry system, which enables the return of payloads to Earth from orbit. The tests, conducted in April 2022, mark a milestone for the company in creating a technology aimed to disrupt the future of satellite operations.
The autonomous high-altitude paraglider system enables Output to achieve precision landing accuracy of its satellite system and customer payloads. The technology is meaningful because all enterprise-class spacecraft experience a 100km or more error dispersion when entering the atmosphere, making conventional low-altitude deployment of parachutes incapable of a precise and pre-coordinated landing, the company said.
“Nobody has flown a high-performance robotic paraglider from these altitudes anywhere in the world before,” said Michael Vergalla, founder and CTO of Outpost. “These flight tests provide us with valuable insights on vehicle performance and control and contribute to our leading position in this novel technology development and application. We have the edge in understanding how this technology works in a new environment and in unpredictable weather.”
Outpost said it conducted two flight tests, to 26 km and 21 km, respectively. On the first test, the system was brought to altitude and tested flight modes, environmental survival, and tracking. The second test released the payload under drogue and transitioned to gliding flight shortly after. The total distance from launch to landing was 181 km, Outpost said. The vehicle was able to successfully navigate to its waypoints as it flew, and made a soft landing along the flight path, where it was recovered by the Outpost team.
The company said the flight tests closed an important set of risk reduction measures to move forward to its first orbital flight missions and Earth return.
For additional details on the company and its technology, visit the Outpost website here.