Mission Analysis and Design of Lighter-than-Air Flying Vehicles (2nd Edition)

A special issue of Aerospace (ISSN 2226-4310). This special issue belongs to the section "Aeronautics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 20 June 2024 | Viewed by 3335

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Aerospace Science and Technology, Politecnico di Milano, Via La Masa 34, 20156 Milano, Italy
Interests: electric aircraft; hybrid-electric aircraft; hydrogen-powered aircraft; aircraft preliminary design; airship; LTA; aerospace sensors and systems; aerospace instrumentation systems; UAS; flight testing
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Aerospace Science and Technology, Politecnico di Milano, via La Masa 34, 20156 Milano, Italy
Interests: aircraft design; electric aircraft; hybrid-electric aircraft; optimal design; aircraft modeling and simulation; airship design; wind turbine control
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Following the great interest shown by contributors and readers for the topics of our previous Special Issue in MDPI's Aerospace journal, we are pleased to announce a second edition devoted to novel studies related to lighter-than-air (LTA) flying vehicles. LTA vehicles are gaining the attention of the industry, thanks primarily to the improvement they offer in terms of endurance in flight and ease of operation (ground infrastructures) compared to fixed-wing aircraft and rotorcraft. Furthermore, they cope, in principle, very well with fully electric or hybrid-electric power-trains, since less energy and power should be needed with respect to other flying vehicles to fly an assigned mission.

This Special Issue aims to collect articles that present the outcomes of current research in the field of LTA vehicles, with two particular focal points: the first is on mission study, including novel possible missions for LTA vehicles, the negotiation of specifications, comparisons to other flying machines (also in terms of ground equipment), etc. This shall trace a map of the most likely missions that could potentially be covered by LTA vehicles, accounting for current technology. The second focus is on preliminary design: in principle, electrification enables some advantages, such as an increase in endurance and the achievement of novel control configurations based on thrust vectoring, but an increase in weight may result from the adoption of batteries or other electric components, thus requiring trade-off analysis to select the most promising design solutions. Developing on this focus may produce a knowledge base supporting industrial design processes.

Prof. Dr. Alberto Rolando
Dr. Carlo E. D. Riboldi
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Aerospace is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • lighter than air
  • airship
  • mission design
  • scenario study
  • mission analysis
  • balloon
  • electric
  • solar power
  • hybrid electric
  • fuel cell
  • hydrogen
  • helium
  • electrification
  • operation
  • ground support
  • ground infrastructure
  • hull design
  • preliminary design
  • sizing
  • lofting
  • unmanned LTA
  • unmanned vehicles
  • low atmosphere
  • deployment
  • stratospheric missions
  • attitude control
  • motion prediction
  • simulation
  • optimal sizing
  • automated sizing

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

23 pages, 8097 KiB  
Article
Analysis of Wind Field Response Characteristics of Tethered Balloon Systems
by Ce Pang, Zeqing He, Kaiyin Song and Shenghong Cao
Aerospace 2024, 11(5), 360; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11050360 - 30 Apr 2024
Viewed by 495
Abstract
Tethered balloon systems encounter various complex wind field environments during flight. To investigate the conditions under which the system can operate safely and smoothly, a longitudinal dynamic model for tethered balloon systems is established. The model incorporates a streamlined balloon shape with its [...] Read more.
Tethered balloon systems encounter various complex wind field environments during flight. To investigate the conditions under which the system can operate safely and smoothly, a longitudinal dynamic model for tethered balloon systems is established. The model incorporates a streamlined balloon shape with its aerodynamic center at the body’s center. Steady-state aerodynamic force coefficients are calculated through simulations and fitted to a function based on the angle of attack within a specified range. The complex cable model is simplified using the lumped mass method, considering the influence of branch cables on the main node position. Experimental results from windless oscillation tests on scaled tethered balloon systems are compared with numerical solutions obtained using the dynamic model under the same conditions, validating the feasibility of the model for simulating different wind field scenarios. Finally, the motion characteristics of tethered balloon systems in different wind fields are analyzed. The numerical simulation results show that in a horizontal step wind field, the cable tension and cable inclination angle increase with the wind speed, and the slower the wind field changes, the shorter the time required for system stabilization. Updrafts greatly increase the likelihood of balloon escape, while downdrafts greatly increase the likelihood of the system making contact with the ground. The findings of this study can provide a basis for selecting suitable wind field conditions and issuing risk warnings for tethered balloon systems. Full article
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19 pages, 13863 KiB  
Article
Ascending Performance of Scientific Balloons with Buoyant Gas–Air Mixture Inflation for Designated Ceiling Height
by Shenghong Cao, Yanchu Yang, Hangyue Zhang, Rong Zhao, Rongchen Zhu, Donghui Zhang and Lin Song
Aerospace 2024, 11(5), 340; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11050340 - 25 Apr 2024
Viewed by 672
Abstract
This paper aims to investigate a new method that uses buoyant gas mixed with air to control the floating height of scientific balloons. Firstly, the static characteristics and thermophysical properties of mixed-gas balloons are analyzed. Subsequently, the inflation model and the thermal-dynamic coupled [...] Read more.
This paper aims to investigate a new method that uses buoyant gas mixed with air to control the floating height of scientific balloons. Firstly, the static characteristics and thermophysical properties of mixed-gas balloons are analyzed. Subsequently, the inflation model and the thermal-dynamic coupled model are established. Furthermore, based on theoretical research, a GUI program is compiled to simulate the ascent of mixed-gas balloons. Finally, flight tests are conducted. As the balloon volume expands to the maximum, the vertical velocity begins to decay and eventually oscillates around 0 m/s, which is consistent with the simulation. In addition, there is a noticeable shift in which the balloon starts to float after climbing to the target altitude, and the difference values between the test and the simulation are less than 350 m. Moreover, the trajectory results are similar to the prediction, and the errors of the end position are less than 2.5 km in horizontal distance. Consequently, this paper provides guidance for balloon-designated ceiling height technology which can allow a single balloon system to be used for tests at multiple heights. Full article
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15 pages, 15313 KiB  
Article
Hexa-Propeller Airship for Environmental Surveillance and Monitoring in Amazon Rainforest
by José Azinheira, Reginaldo Carvalho, Ely Paiva and Rafael Cordeiro
Aerospace 2024, 11(4), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11040249 - 22 Mar 2024
Viewed by 761
Abstract
This paper proposes a new kind of airship actuator configuration for surveillance and environmental monitoring missions. We present the design and application of a six-propeller electrical airship (Noamini) with independent tilting propellers, allowing improved and flexible maneuverability. The vehicle has different combinations of [...] Read more.
This paper proposes a new kind of airship actuator configuration for surveillance and environmental monitoring missions. We present the design and application of a six-propeller electrical airship (Noamini) with independent tilting propellers, allowing improved and flexible maneuverability. The vehicle has different combinations of differential propulsion and can be used in a two-, four- or six-motor configuration. We developed a high-fidelity airship simulator for the Noamini airship, which was used to test and validate a control/guidance approach. Incremental Nonlinear Dynamic Inversion (INDI) is used for the velocity/attitude control to follow a high-level L1 guidance reference in a simulated waypoint-tracking mission with wind and turbulence. The proposed framework will be soon implemented in the onboard control system of the Noamini, an autonomous airship for environmental monitoring and surveillance applications. Full article
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19 pages, 5774 KiB  
Article
Analysis and Testing of Variable Height Operating Characteristics of Super-Pressure Balloon Airbag Fan
by Wei Qu, Qianghui Zhang, Yumei Qin, Jinggang Miao, Zeqing He and Yanchu Yang
Aerospace 2024, 11(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace11010038 - 29 Dec 2023
Viewed by 987
Abstract
A fan is part of the core equipment of a super-pressure balloon altitude control system, and high-performance fans have a significant impact on the altitude control capability and flight safety of super-pressure balloons. This paper proposes a mixed-flow MIX-140 fan for use with [...] Read more.
A fan is part of the core equipment of a super-pressure balloon altitude control system, and high-performance fans have a significant impact on the altitude control capability and flight safety of super-pressure balloons. This paper proposes a mixed-flow MIX-140 fan for use with super-pressure balloons. Changes in the fan’s operating characteristics at various flight altitudes of a super-pressure balloon were investigated. First, the performance of the fan at ground level was obtained through numerical simulation and compared with measured data of the prototype to verify the accuracy of the simulation analysis. On this basis, the influences of changes in the atmospheric pressure, temperature, and fan speed on fan performance were investigated through numerical simulation. Furthermore, the MIX-140 fan was compared with an existing fan, and the variation of two parameters, namely, the ratio of inflation volume per unit time and the ratio of inflation volume per unit power, were investigated at different altitudes. Finally, the changes in the operating characteristics of the fan under different high-altitude environments were investigated through actual testing. The results reveal that changes in altitude can lead to significant changes in fan performance, and changes in the atmospheric pressure, temperature, and fan speed affect the fan’s working characteristics. Compared with the existing fan, the MIX-140 fan achieves an average increase of 295.8% in the inflation volume per unit of time, and 14.6% in the inflation volume per unit of power at altitudes of 16–20 km. The performance variation characteristics and testing methods of this proposed super-pressure balloon fan can provide a foundation and reference for the design of a super-pressure balloon control system. Full article
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