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Thu, Nov 03, 2022

Mississippi State University Flight Lab Welcomes Formidable UAS

Birds of the Magnolia State

MSU’s Raspet Flight Research Laboratory enjoys the distinction of being the only institution in the world contemporaneously designated as the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Air System (UAS) Safety Research Facility and an official UAS test site for both the FAA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Home to a fleet of the largest and most capable unmanned aircraft in academic use, Raspet has secured more than $50-million in federal research and testing contracts since 2017 and remains a world leader in composite materials research.

In November 2022, it was announced that Raspet Flight Research Laboratory had acquired a newly-designed, remotely-piloted UAS called Teros. The vehicle—manufactured by Navmar Applied Sciences Corp., and deriving of Sonex Aerospace’s manned Xenos-B Motorglider—is expected to be the first UAS of its kind to receive FAA type-certification.

Featuring a wingspan of nearly forty-feet; a Bonanza-esque “V”-tail empennage; a single, forward-mounted, tractor propeller; a six-hundred-pound payload; and an 1,800-pound Maximum Gross Takeoff Weight (MGTOW), Teros is capable of operating for up to 24-hours between refuelings. The vehicle has a maximum speed of 120-knots, a service-ceiling of FL240, and handily carries scientific equipment massing six-times what Raspet researchers could previously send aloft in the facility’s largest UAS.

Teros can be equipped with a 4G LTE cellular system for use when cell service is unavailable—an asset eminently conducive to a mission profile comprising search-and-rescue; disaster response; agricultural, industrial, institutional, and utility monitoring; security; border and maritime patrol; and meteorological research.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum states: “This innovative aircraft typifies the extraordinary aviation research led by MSU as we work to implement uncrewed aircraft systems into the national airspace. Most importantly, this aircraft will enhance our researchers’ ability to make new discoveries that benefit our state and our nation, enhancing our capabilities as we continue to grow our UAS partnerships.”

Raspet Flight Research Laboratory director Tom Brooks adds: “Anything that’s dull, dirty, or dangerous for on-board pilots to perform, the Teros could be a viable alternative. It never gets tired, sleepy, nor hungry—nor does it lose focus.”

Teros can be remotely operated by pilots positioned within ground-based mobile flight-decks (known as ground control stations). Conversely, the system can be operated autonomously by computers within the selfsame stations. Multiple camera systems and sensor arrays mounted on the Teros platform relay images, telemetry, and additional data to researchers.

FMI: www.msstate.edu

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