NASA blog 4 U those of U who want to know what it's like to operate a fixed wing UAV professionally, this is a good read, after work. U think a few thousand bucks in a tried & true fixed wing gets U a bulletproof hands off system but it doesn't. They have to watch for icing in flight, check weather before flight, verify thousands of systems, troubleshoot glitches, fix balky radios, & test fly before the actual mission.This is all after the grants are awarded, the debt is monetized, & the gear is at the location. The autopilot is not from Shenzhen KDS or Shenzhen Dajiang Innovation but Oregon of all places.They use the same Goog Earth tools U do. Their aft mounted propeller gets damaged by rocks thrown up by the landing gear. They take off & land manually using 2.4Ghz RC controllers before switching to autopilot. When was the last time U did a manual takeoff? They use iridium satellites for long range radio. They still cross their fingers every time they fly beyond line of sight.Like all grad school, the real challenge is not designing the experiments or solving difficult equations but troubleshooting sensors, swapping dead batteries, & stopping water intrusion.
E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones


  • Errr ... correction: I meant if a NASA system like that failed in mid air somewhere else than over the ice at New Aalesund...
  • I would also imagine that if a system like that failed in mid air, the press would immediately write "Burning NASA fireball fell from the sky and crashed into xxx" or something similar ...

  • My daughter applied for one of those intern positions at Svalbard. They really do have to carry rifles because of the polar bears.
  • Moderator
    Interesting stuff indeed Jack
  • T3
    They have one good reason to think 10 times before sending anything.
    With flights enduring a few hours, when they crash, it will be really far from the nearest gas station and WalMart. They wouldn't even recover post-factum experiences.
  • An interesting read, thanks Jack.
This reply was deleted.