NASA and United Technologies Corp.'s Collins Aerospace business are gearing up for the final phase of a joint project to build a data link technology designed to support unmanned aircraft system management operations in national airspace.
Collins Aerospace said Thursday it has helped finance command non-payload control waveform development efforts and developed radio prototypes that could operate with CNPC during flight tests aspart of a nine-year project.
The space agency has used a Lockheed Martin-built S-3A aircraft as the primary testbed for CNPC technology-related demonstrations over the past six years.
Heather Robertson, vice president and general manager of integrated solutions at Collins Aerospace, said the company's data links are built to maintain unmanned aircraft control while the vehicle operates in controlled airspace.
“CNPC is critical to maintaining positive control of UAS in complex operations within national airspace, such as flights beyond visual line of sight or above 500 feet," Robertson added.
Collins Aerospace created the prototype radio to also support NASA's System Integration Operationalization initiative through flights with the General Atomics-built SkyGuardian UAS.
CNPC-5000 tests are scheduled to occur this year.