High Altitude Airship demonstrates successful launch during abbreviated flight

Demonstration proves a number of key technologies and systems


file The U.S. Army and Lockheed Martin launched the first-of-its kind High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator this morning from the historic Akron Airdock.

MS2’s High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator (HALE-D) airship was successfully launched from the historic Akron Airdock in Ohio.

The helium-filled airship took off at 5:47 a.m. It ascended to approximately 32,000 feet; however, an anomaly with the helium levels prevented the airship from attaining its target altitude of 60,000 feet. A decision was made to terminate the flight, and the airship landed at a predetermined location without incident shortly before 8:30 a.m. in southwestern Pennsylvania.

“While we didn’t reach the target altitude, first flights of new technologies like HALE-D also afford us the ability to learn and test with a mind toward future developments,” said Dan Schultz, vice president, ship and aviation systems for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors business. “We demonstrated a variety of advanced technologies, including launch and control of the airship, communications links, unique propulsion system, solar array electricity generation, remote piloting communications and control capability, in-flight operations, and controlled vehicle recovery to a remote un-populated area.”

The HALE-D is an unmanned lighter-than-air vehicle designed to demonstrate advanced new technologies and capabilities for keeping American soldiers safer through improved communications. The airship is completely powered by advanced solar cell technology and rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

No injuries or damage were experienced during this landing. MS2 is in the process of recovering the airship and will conduct a full evaluation.