Kuang-Chi Group Brings Near-Space Travel Closer to Reality
November 9, 2016 – China The test launch of Traveler II, an aircraft system comprised of a helium-powered high-altitude balloon and a cabin, was completed on November 9 near Bosten Lake in Xinjiang, China, the Shenzhen-based technology developer Kuang-Chi Group announced.
The company planned to bring a turtle to an altitude of 20 kilometers above sea level with Traveler II. It was successfully launched, reaching an altitude of 12,000 meters but the communication and control system suddenly lost connection with the base half an hour after the launch. The emergent system was set to work immediately but the technical team decided to send a return message, and Traveler II landed slowly through releasing the helium. A plan to launch the system on November 6 was canceled because of snow, and another attempt was halted on November 7 because of unexpected high wind.
In 2015, Kuang-Chi successfully launched Traveler I, which only consisted of the balloon portion of the system and a nacelle, into near space and collected and transmitted data to the ground in real-time. The current test tried to send the full system, Traveler II, which included a turtle in the chamber of the one-ton cabin, into near space.
The system being tested included a life support system to ensure safety in the harsh near-space environment, flight control systems for manual and remote control, and emergency rescue systems. The test launch also showed the strength of the materials used for the balloon, which were developed in-house by Kuang-Chi. The material is a key technology of the system, as it is extremely lightweight and strong enough to withstand the harsh environment of the near space area. In addition to technologies designed for life support and safety, Traveler II also tried to bring data collection systems, which were focused on data analysis for applications in chemistry, physics, astronomy, and more, into near space.
The company planned to prove its capability of sustainable flight to near space in this test launch. The Traveler III will be launched next year on schedule.
Traveler Manned Series, the next phase of the project, is a manned aircraft designed for near-space tourism. The balloon, which is 40 meters in diameter, will be capable of carrying six humans into space in its one-ton cabin and will come fully equipped with data collection and analysis systems.
Dr. Liu Ruopeng, president of Kuang-Chi, stated, “We’ve gotten lots of experience on extreme weather and unforeseen circumstances. We will persevere to advance our goal of creating a flying device that can be used both for scientific data collection and analysis and providing commercial travel to Earth’s near space region. Enabling near space travel for the general public is one of the dreams the five founders of Kuang-Chi have had for many years.”
Founded in 2010 as a five-person team, Kuang-Chi has created a Global Community of Innovation of more than 2,600 employees in 18 countries and regions. Kuang-Chi's subsidiary company KuangChi Science Limited (00439.HK) is concentrated on the development of future technology that improves lives and advances cities.
KuangChi Science conducts research and develops disruptive technologies for future space exploration and artificial intelligence. The first of the company’s commercialized developments was Cloud, an aerial platform that provides integrated services, including internet access, data collection, and data analysis, as well as other communication services.