Autonomous Hybrid Propulsion LTA Platforms for Urban Air Mobility
Fort Worth, Texas-based Galaxy Unmanned Systems LLC continues building on its airspace integration roadmap with its latest D2P2 (Direct to Phase 2) award to facilitate the construction and flight demonstration of a GCXX-E4B prototype unmanned airship. A breakdown of the GCXX-E4B, GC stands for Galaxy Class, and the XX would typically denote the model length of the airship, i.e., GC60 would translate to sixty feet in approximate length. The designated GC length for this project is yet to be determined.
The work plan for the Phase 2 effort consists of adapting prior Phase 1 simulations and lessons learned from smaller prototype work from previous Phase 2 awards. Commercial, dual-use applications will also be a factor, as well as Air Force-specific feedback and considerations from the program’s Technical Point of Contact (TPOC). The mix of considerations, applications, and physics will ultimately determine the final size of the deliverable for this award.
The last part of the acronym, -E4, denotes four electric motors. This is Galaxy’s new R&D/TE platform concept called PAL (Persistent Airborne Laboratory). Initially, the airship will have an APU-generated electric propulsion system and then graduate to an augmented solar reversible hydrogen fuel cell to power the four electric motors, two left and two right, mounted close to the latitudinal axis of the non-ridged envelope.
Finally, the B in the acronym denotes autonomous guidance system. The autonomy part of this is based on work currently being done on earlier Phase I and II STTR AFWERX awards. Some of the innovation and lessons learned will help make the hybrid propulsion system a reality.
Between the aerostatic lift of the airship and the augmented solar reversible hydrogen fuel cell, this could be as close as you can get to a veritable C4ISR perpetual motion machine.
Galaxy Unmanned Systems LLC (GUS) will enlist the assistance of long-term partners Matt Young of Waterlines AeroDesign LLC, the University of Texas at Arlington’s PI’s Dr. Kamesh Subbarao and Dr. Animesh Chakravarthy.
For more information about GUS and the progress they are making working towards full NAS integration for drones and Urban Air Mobility, visit