Each SkyStar system includes a ground control station, ground system module, tether, lighter-than-air platform, stabilized payload platform, and sensor suite. The SkyStar has accumulated over 1,500,000 military and civilian research and intelligence gathering hours. (Image sourse: RT LTS Systems Ltd.)

RT LTA develops an improved bladder material for lighter-than-air SkyStar aerostats

The improved material will allow all SkyStar aerostats to fly consecutively for a whole week and will dramatically reduce the helium leakage.
Israel-based aerostat company RT LTA Systems Ltd. completed the development of an improved light-weight elastic material for aerostat bladders. These new bladders increase SkyStar aerostat system’s ability to hold helium gas and increase system endurance by more than 100%, enabling SkyStars to fly continuously for up to 150 hours.

Aerostats – or lighter-than-air aircraft – achieve lift with the use of buoyant gas. Modern aerostats almost exclusively use helium, which is nearly as light as hydrogen, but is neither toxic nor flammable.

The SkyStar aerostats are a self-contained, versatile, and transportable systems, used primarily for defense, border security, and public safety missions. They provide wide areas of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications coverage.

The improved UV proof bladder material minimizes helium leak and extends the lifespan of the bladder.

After an extensive year and a half of research and development, RT has successfully completed field testing, and is ready for integration into all SkyStar aerostat systems.

“We have just finished 6 months of field tests, which have proved that the improved material leads to a dramatic reduction of helium leak from the aerostat bladder,” says Rami Shmueli, CEO of RT and AERO-T.

Alongside the development of the improved material, RT has also completed the development of a helium recycling system, that saves up to 90% of the aerostat's helium volume in case users need to change the aerostat bladder during an extended operation.

An RT SkyStar 180 aerostat deployed at sea. (Image source: RT LTA Systems Ltd.)

The helium recycling system will prove useful to operators flying SkyStar systems continuously at the same site for more than six months at a time.

“The extension of the systems' endurance is of high importance for our defense and [homeland security] customers, which are using RT's aerostats for operational needs. The lower operational costs allow us and our clients to invest more resources in developing new and sophisticated payloads to be carried by the aerostats. Altogether, we are happy to offer an even more cost-effective aerostat systems with high abilities and an extended endurance,” adds Scmueli.

The SkyStar systems have accumulated more than 1,500,000 military and civilian operational hours worldwide.


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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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