Successful Testing of Autonomous Parafoil Delivery System

Leiden, The Netherlands, December 23, 2004 Dutch Space, the largest space industry in the Netherlands which has a growing business in the defence area, has in cooperation with the Dutch Special Forces succesfully tested the SPADES system, also known as Parafoil Autonomous Delivery System (PADS). The SPADES system, developed by Dutch Space, is an intelligent, autonomously operating parachute system, which is used to deliver loads with high precision for (re) supply of armed forces on locations that are difficult to reach by air transport means. For the first time Dutch Special forces have jumped together with the SPADES system in order to let themselves be guided by the system and lead them to the target point, landing close to the delivery point. The tests took place in Arizona (USA) and proved that both the SPADES 160 and 250 kg payload systems can land on the designated area within approximately 100 m from the target point. These results opens the way for further development of the systems for larger payload capability (1000 kg and up). Those systems are of interest to both the space and defence community. Moreover such high payload capability systems will be very worthwhile for delivering humanitarian aid to remote areas. SPADES is a cargo parachute system that manoeuvres from high altitudes and large distances completely automatic and accurately to a specified delivery point. The system comprises intelligent guidance, navigation and control,based on GPS and a parafoil (in this case supplied by Aerazur, a company resorting under the Zodiac Group). SPADES has been developed by Dutch Space and the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Royal Dutch Army and supported by the Royal Dutch Airforce and Ministry of Economic Affairs of The Netherlands. During the course of the tests in Arizona both SPADES 160 and 250 kg payload systems have been dropped from a Skyvan. These first operational tests showed that the systems are reliable. With the current systems the Special Forces and Marines will be able to extend these missions significantly with regard to time and range of action. With a 1000 kg system they may e.g. bring along a fully packed Quad (a kind of 4-wheel drive scooter). Evaluation of the test data has confirmed to date the successful outcome of the tests and shows that the implemented technologies (partly derived from spacetechnologies) have met the high expectations. For DutchSpace and partners this is a solid base for further development and supply to operational units of the national Department of Defense, NATO and other foreign governments. Dutch Space - formerly Fokker Space - is the largest space company in the Netherlands. The company residing in Leiden, conveniently situated between The Hague (where the gouvernment resides) and Schiphol, the main airport, is the largest independent supplier of Solar Panels for satellites in Europe and is an important supplier of integrated components for the European Ariane 5 launcher. Moreover Dutch Space is involved in development of simulation and software for both the space community as for defense applications. The SPADES systems are a logical spin-off from our activities. For further information, please contact: Geert Mennenga Dutch Space BV The Netherlands tel.: 31-71-524.51.20 cell phone: 31-6- Email:

Source: Dutch Space
Date: Dec 23, 2004

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