BIG BLUE: High-altitude UAV demonstrator of mars airplane technology

Andrew D. Simpson, Osamah A. Rawashdeh, Suzanne W. Smith, Jamey D. Jacob, William T. Smith, James E. Lumpp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

12 Scopus citations


BIG BLUE (Baseline Inflatable-wing Glider, Balloon-Launched Unmanned Experiment) is a flight experiment envisioned, designed, built, and flown primarily by undergraduate students in the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky. BIG BLUE was conceived as a demonstration of unique inflatable wing technologies with potential for application for Mars airplanes. On May 3, 2003, BIG BLUE achieved the first-ever deployment and curing of UV hardening inflatable wings and reached an altitude of 27.1km (89,000ft). BIG BLUE II was launched successfully on May 1, 2004 with a second-generation optimized wing design. The wings were deployed and cured to an excellent symmetric flying shape from a flight ready fuselage with an autonomous autopilot, sensor and communication systems. To date, over 100 students have participated directly in the design, fabrication and testing of BIG BLUE, exposing them to the challenge and excitement of aerospace careers. BIG BLUE is supported by the NASA Workforce Development Program which has objectives to attract, motivate, and prepare students for technological careers in support of NASA, its missions, and its research efforts. BIG BLUE provides multidisciplinary experiential learning directed specifically toward entering the aerospace workforce.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2005 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2005
Event2005 IEEE Aerospace Conference - Big Sky, MT, United States
Duration: Mar 5 2005Mar 12 2005

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2005 IEEE Aerospace Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky, MT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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