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Title: A Study in Solar Powered, Continuous Flight
Authors: Colosky, Thomas
Fishbein, Brian
Loughran, Rory
Mich, Ryan
Advisors: Martinelli, Luigi
Department: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Class Year: 2013
Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to design and fabricate a low cost solar powered airplane capable of flying indefinitely. We developed a model to size the UAV and estimate the maximum time the plane could fly without sunlight. Beginning with a constraint analysis and the results of the model, we analyzed the aerodynamics of the plane, including a stability analysis. Finite element analysis was performed to size the airframe and analyze the structure. An electronic power management system was also designed in order to transfer the power from the solar panels to the lithium ion batteries and the propulsion system. The aircraft was fabricated and preliminary tests were performed to validate the design. A 24 hour bench test was performed on one half of the propulsion system. The success of this test proved that indefinite flight was possible. To determine the air-worthiness of the plane, a flight test was conducted. The success of this test validated the aerodynamic design. Further work includes refining and optimizing the planform, developing an autonomous control system, affixing the solar cells to the wings and testing them during flight conditions, and completing a 24 hour test during which the plane successfully takes off, flies through the night, and lands. Due to the successful design of a low cost solar powered UAV concept and the eventual widespread use of these aircraft, the policy implications of such planes was then discussed.
Extent: 159 pages
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 1924-2016

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