The dimensions of VALKERIE

June 2020 - August 2020

The Vertical-takeoff And Landing Kompact Electric Reusable Inflatable Explorer (VALKERIE) is designed to fly on Mars. It consists of a single rectangular wing with a fuselage in the middle and end pieces on the side. VALKERIE uses thrust vectoring with two motors on either end to control the aircraft, with two modes being available- fixed wing and vertical takeoff/ landing (VTOL)- with the fixed wing mode being 45 degrees slanted. The inflatable wing is critical for the exploration of Mars, since it allows for a greater stowage volume as the wing can be deflated and folded, then inflated elsewhere. An aircraft like this would be a huge asset on Mars since it brings much needed capabilities a rover cannot provide.


The wing is made of single-coated polyurethane oxford fabric and has 11 inflatable bladders inside which maintain the air pressure and allows the wing to expand. The airfoil shape is NACA 0018, and the bladders are made of 4Mil clear plastic sheets. A Futaba receiver and transmitter, as well as a MultiWii board were implemented in the avionics. Electrifly Rimfire 1.2 450 kV motors, 15” x 10" propellers, 80 amp ESCs, and a 6 cell battery were also used. Foam board was chosen to make the end pieces as well as the fuselage. The wing and bladders were constructed using a linear heat sealer to heat one side of the fabric to bond it with another side. The final overall weight was 10.8 lbs.

The VALKERIE was a success, in that it did not experience any major problems and was able to fully transition from VTOL mode to fixed wing mode and land without incident.

Team members include Omar Abouzahr, Alex Booker, Meghana Fathepure, Nicco Wang, and Daniel Tikalsky, along with Dr. Ben Loh and Dr. Jamey Jacob at the Unmanned Systems Research Institute, with support from Navatek.

Featured in: Okstate News OkstateNews , NASA: NASA Link , OSU Research Matters Magazine: Magazine Link

Publication: Design and Construction of an Inflatable-Winged VTOL Mars Electric Flyer