On 6th and 7th of October, POLARIS conducted a successful 2-day flight testing campaign at Rotenburg Airport (EDXQ). For the first time, POLARIS had 3 vehicles at the airport within one campaign. Two vehicles were in the air, while the third one conducted its first roll tests.
We are proud of this great team achievement of having prepared 3 vehicles simultaneously in a short time! We would also like to thank the Rotenburg Airport team for their (as always) great support!
The main focus of this flight campaign was on the 3.5 m long demonstrator ALEDA. The vehicle already conducted its first taxiing test in March and was scheduled to have its first flight in April/May. However, a Bundeswehr contract that was awarded in March, required substantial personnel resources in the following months, such that the works on ALEDA had to be put on hold temporarily.
In September, the works on ALEDA were continued, and on 6th of October ALEDA was finally in the air for the first time.
Thereby, ALEDA conducted a total of 3 successful flights in a row within a period of less then 4 hours. Despite a windy and gusty day, all 3 flights went absolutely flawless, including take-off and landing.
We are extremely proud of this result! We look forward to investigating the recorded flight data, and to have ALEDA in the air again soon!
ATHENA is currently in its final assembly stage and conducted its first roll tests on 7th of October. The first flight will be executed before the end of the year. Since ATHENA is much heavier than ALEDA and has five times the amount of thrust, the vehicle requires a special operating license, awarded in July, and will operate from a coastal airport over sea. Initial flights will be conducted under turbine power. Later on, the vehicle is to be equipped with an additional rocket engine.
The roll tests went perfectly, whereas the main focus was to investigate gear steerability and vehicle vibration characteristics during high-speed taxiing, internal temperature measurements with all 4 turbojet engines operating under full thrust, vehicle control and telemetry, and overall vehicle behavior.
During this flight campaign, also the 2.5 m long demonstrator STELLA was flown again. STELLA is a comparatively simple vehicle, and is the oldest and smallest demonstrator in the inventory of POLARIS.
STELLA was already out-of-service for a longer time, but was provisionally reactivated for this campaign. The vehicle was flown on October 6th, right after the ALEDA flight program was completed.
However, due to its simple construction, as well as multiple repairs in the past, STELLA had greater difficulties with facing the strong winds of that day, leading to an “unintended ground contact”. Therefore, this was unfortunately the last flight of STELLA.
Time for STELLA to find its final rest in the POLARIS museum!
The next major step in the flight program is the first flight of ATHENA in the coming weeks.
Afterwards, ALEDA and ATHENA will be used for continuous flight testing and technology validation. In parallel, the fourth and final demonstrator “Nova” is already in preparation. The supersonic demonstrator Nova will become much larger than previous demonstrators, and is to be the last scaled demonstrator before the full development of the full-size spaceplane is initiated. Nova will fly in 2023.
POLARIS is looking forward to an exciting rest of 2022, and to an even more exciting 2023!