HABLEG (High Altitude Balloon Launched Experimental Glider)

HABLEG (High Altitude Balloon Launched Experimental Glider)


Scientists of DLR (German Aerospace Center) successfully performed a stratospheric flight with a small sized UAS being launched in 20km altitude. The goal of HABLEG (High Altitude Balloon Launched Experimental Glider) is to develop and test new technologies needed for unmanned stratospheric solar airplanes like the ones currently being developed by Google, Facebook and Airbus.

The aircraft and it´s systems were developed, build and tested by a small team of the DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics. The technology significantly reduces effort and costs in comparison to unmanned solar platform test flights, while also opening up new possibilities for scientific applications by offering controlled flight paths and safe return of balloon payloads.

HABLEG has a mass of 7kg, a wingspan of 3m and can carry an additional payload of up to 3kg. The flight was conducted at the rocket base ESRANGE in northern Sweden, where the glider was lifted to an altitude of 20km by means of a helium balloon. Upon release in the low density atmosphere, a central challenge was the transition from freefall to horizontal stratospheric flight. Having achieved this critical part of the mission, the plane was then automatically guided back to base while performing it´s test flight program. All characteristics of the plane could be tested and validated within the one hour glide phase.

Touch-down occurred less than 50m away from the launch site which makes it the first successful flight of this kind in Europe.

The team now plans to extend the capabilities of small unmanned platforms for stratospheric research applications. The goal is to increase mission parameters like flight time, altitude and mission capabilities as well as conducting science missions in collaboration with partners.



Gary Mortimer

Founder and Editor of sUAS News | Gary Mortimer has been a commercial balloon pilot for 25 years and also flies full-size helicopters. Prior to that, he made tea and coffee in air traffic control towers across the UK as a member of the Royal Air Force.