S. Manas: Mongolians can triumph in airplane design
The following interview is with S. Manas, instructor/teacher at the School of Mechanical Engineering of Mongolian University of Science and Technology. He graduated with a Flight Mechanics degree in 2009, and earned his Master’s Degree in 2011. He currently leads the “Giant Club,” a club dedicated to students interested in flight mechanics.
-Tell us about your club. What is it that you do?
-Giant Club has over 80 members right now. Members include a wide array of age groups from ten year old beginners to State Masters. Our club attends and competes in various tournaments that involve unmanned airplanes. We also organize a flying model competition or “Mongolian Cup” in partnership with independent organization “Nasa.” We also organize a rocket-shooting tournament every year, for the occasion of the first Mongolian Astronaut in Space.
-What is an unmanned flying apparatus?
-It is a pilotless flying object which can complete various tasks. Since it has no pilot, it can be used in very harsh conditions. We began to look into this kind of technology three years previously.This technology is very advanced today, and it can be used in many ways. The nearest example I can cite is the reconnaissance missions carried out by Israeli and American military.
-Are the unmanned aircrafts you build new to Mongolia?
-We use the micro (smaller) type of those devices. We can say that this type did not exist in Mongolia before. Unmanned aircrafts are divided into many groups and types. It starts from very small to very large. If we make any unmanned flying devices any bigger than the one we are making now, its size will be as large as a SUV. But to build something like that, we need financing, larger workshop and more equipment. Since we currently don’t have access to those, we are building devices within our potential.
Flying models are divided into three groups: free flying, artistic flying and radio flights. We are working to introduce the radio flying to Mongolia.
-How will they be utilized?
-We currently made four different types of unmanned airplanes. The first was designed to protect the environment and was successfully tested. This model can be used to spray bug repellants around farms and other vegetation, and can also examine the extent of a wildfire.
The next second one is made to be recharged by sun’s energy. The battery, located in the wings, is made to absorb energy through solar power. It can fly throughout the night with the energy absorbed during the day. If the sun is shining brightly than usual, it can fly and stay up in the air for even a week. This model is controlled by radio-waves.
The third one is called a “quad-copter.” It has four blades to help keep it in the air and is designed to carry a camera – it can take photos and record videos.
The last model we made is designed to cause rainfall. To stimulate rain, it is placed on top of a mountain and a rocket is prepared to shoot into the sky. The result varies, but generally this is not as efficient as expected because only some amount of the chemical agent – that cause rainfall – reaches the clouds. But we are currently working to have the chemical agents sprayed directly into the clouds by our flying device.
-How high do the unmanned devices fly?
-Well, they differ depending on their types. For example, ones designed for reconnaissance missions can fly at up to 20 kilometers of altitude. But the ones we build can fly as high as one kilometer in the air. We are researching into a device which can fly at an altitude of 4 kilometers, designed to trigger rainfalls from clouds.
-Can specialists use these devices for their intended purpose?
-It is not possible right now. We only performed the initial testing phases for these devices. We discovered its flaws and faults and we are working to get rid of them. The devices need a lot of improvement and reorganization for specialists to use them on a daily basis.
-What is Mongolia’s progress in flying devices in general?
-We also study a micro-satellite named Can Sat. There was a Can Sat tournament in 2011, held in Spain. Two Mongolian teams competed and earned both Gold and Bronze medals. Additionally, the Asian flying model tournament was held here in Mongolia.There were three different competitions within the tournament and Mongolians were declared winners in all three of them. By doing this, they proved that Mongolia can lead the world in flying devices.
In 2005, “Nasa” Society was established in Mongolia and became a member of the international organization FAI. This enabled Mongolian flight mechanic engineers to compete against other like-minded people around the world.
-Can you elaborate on the “Can Sat”?
-Can Sat means that it is a satellite that can fit inside a can. It is similar to unmanned airplanes. But it is a bit different as it is a satellite. Since it is considered a “micro” device, it will not leave Earth out into space. It will reach a certain height, and after losing its rockets it opens its chute and goes back down to land. But during its time up in the air, it can send information about pressure, temperature and also send information about its location through its GPS device.
Also, we are looking into the “Nano Sat” in cooperation with the Physics Department at the National University of Mongolia. We are planning to release the device into the primary orbit of Earth. This satellite can transfer data through only one station. It can both measure and send information on climate (air pressure and temperature), or it can air one television channel. It can run out in the space for up to two years, once it is expired it does not come back to earth.
-Do people support your devices?
-I presented the devices to two organizations and we all agreed to work together. We currently cooperate with Institute of Meteorology and Hydrologyon our project to utilize unmanned aircrafts to cause rainfall. The other project we have partnership is the device which use solar power.
-What is your dream, concerning the line of work you are in right now?
-I dream to build an unmanned flying device which can fly at an altitude of 200 to 400 kilometers and is easily accessible by the public, with an aim to protect and ensure the safety of the natural environment and ecology.
I am doing the essential researches into it. If we only have the financing, we can do the research work within a year and in another year we can produce an easy-to-use flying apparatus for the public. Our technology will be up-to-date and will walk in line with the latest flying technology out there in the world.
If one is to buy an unmanned aerial vehicle we have from a foreign country, it will cost at least USD 50 million.
-Can Mongolians build airplanes in the future?
-Building an airplane is very difficult and Mongolians did make airplanes before, but I am not sure about the exact date. Certain employees at MIAT were running a project, “Son – 1.” They built a one-seat airplane and made test flights. I do not know why they are quiet about their project lately but they help with our work on unmanned airplanes.
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