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goes stratospheric


❱❱ The HAPSMobile Sunglider used wing mounte solar panels to provide the power for its successful stratospheric flight to demonstrate broadband mobile communication


flight. Using smartphones connected to the Internet through the payload in the stratosphere, members from Loon and AeroVironment successfully made a video call to HAPSMobile members based in Japan. The stratosphere-ready payload used in the test flight was a first-of-its-kind for a fixed-wing, autonomous aircraft-based HAPS to deliver LTE connectivity. Using MIMO technology, the payload enabled LTE connectivity to be delivered continuously for about 15 hours during Sunglider’s test flight. The payload test system was composed


of a service link from Sunglider using the 700MHz spectrum band (LTE Band28) and a feeder link between the aircraft and a ground gateway using millimeter wave spectrum. Since the radio waves


transmitted and received by Sunglider operate on the same frequencies as existing smartphones and devices, Loon and AeroVironment members were able to use regular smartphones to participate in the video call. During the test flight, smooth operations and connection speeds enabled high-definition, low-latency video calls. During the test flight, HAPSMobile also


conducted basic measurements of stratosphere-to-ground radio wave propagation data that will be used towards future contributions to the ITU Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) with a view to international standardisation. With the valuable data that the teams collected during this test, HAPSMobile and Loon will be collectively working with ITU, 3GPP, regulators and telecommunication companies to further the existing work on


❱❱ Certification is now required as the UAV relies on powered flight to reach the stratosphere to perform its mission


HAPS. The test also provided insight into how HAPS could be used in disasters and alongside other lifesaving technologies. According to Junichi Miyakawa, president & CEO of HAPSMobile, vital data was obtained that will accelerate the development of commercial services and improve the coverage and quality of HAPS connectivity.


“I am thrilled that our wireless communications equipment jointly developed with Loon exceeded our expectations in severe high-altitude conditions. We look forward to further developing the payload so we can improve mobile connectivity and bridge the world’s digital divide,” he says. Loon’s CEO, Alastair Westgarth, says:


“This successful test represents yet another step to develop a new layer of connectivity based in the stratosphere. It is also an important step in our ongoing strategic partnership with HAPSMobile. By developing technologies to harness the opportunity of the stratosphere, we are making progress toward our shared goal of connecting unconnected and under- connected populations around the world.” Miyakawa believes that the company has once again moved a step closer to its goal of building a base station that floats in the sky solely on the basis of solar power. With the high wind speeds on the day of the test, Miyakawa was relieved when it landed after clearing all the test items. “In this test flight, we successfully


conducted communications with smartphones on the ground and obtained data for fully automated piloting. While there is still much room for improvement, we will continue to work toward realising our dream. Even though the temperature fell below -73C, our work on endurance tests bore fruit and resulted in a successful test flight,” he concludes. T&TH


June 2021 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 27


PHOTOGRAPHS LEFT AND RIGHT: NASA/CARLA THOMAS


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