IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


12th February, 2024 Science and Technology


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The successful test flight of India's solar-powered "pseudo satellite," known as the High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS), marks a significant advancement in the country's aerospace capabilities.


  • HAPS is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) designed to operate at extremely high altitudes, ranging from 18 to 20 kilometers above the ground.
  • It is powered by solar energy, allowing it to remain airborne for extended periods, potentially months or even years, akin to the functionality of a satellite.
  • The HAPS project is led by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) in Bengaluru, India.
  • The recent successful test flight of a prototype, conducted at the Challakere testing range in Karnataka, demonstrates India's progress in developing this cutting-edge technology.

Features and Capabilities

  • Altitude and Endurance:
    • HAPS can fly at altitudes nearly double that of commercial airplanes, providing extensive coverage and surveillance capabilities, particularly in border areas.
    • With its solar-powered propulsion, it can sustain flight for extended durations, offering advantages similar to traditional satellites but at a fraction of the cost.
  • Cost-Effectiveness:
    • Unlike traditional satellites that require expensive rocket launches to reach orbit, HAPS operates within the Earth's atmosphere, significantly reducing operational costs.
  • Surveillance and Monitoring:
    • The primary application of HAPS is for surveillance and monitoring purposes, especially in remote or sensitive areas like border regions.
    • It offers continuous coverage and can detect changes or movements on the ground, enhancing situational awareness and security.


  • Strategic Importance: HAPS enhances India's strategic capabilities by providing a cost-effective and versatile platform for surveillance and reconnaissance.
  • Border Security: In light of geopolitical tensions and security challenges, HAPS can play a crucial role in monitoring border areas and safeguarding national interests.
  • Disaster Response: HAPS can be deployed for disaster management and response efforts, providing real-time data and communication support in areas affected by natural calamities.
  • Telecommunications Infrastructure: In remote or underserved areas, HAPS can serve as a temporary or backup solution for providing mobile communication networks, especially during emergencies.

Global Context

  • International Development: India joins a select group of countries, including China, South Korea, the UK, and the US (through NASA), in developing HAPS technology.
  • Collaborative Efforts: Collaboration between government agencies, research institutions like NAL, and private companies is driving innovation and progress in the field of HAPS technology.
  • Commercial Opportunities: Beyond national security and defense applications, HAPS technology holds potential for commercial use, including telecommunications, environmental monitoring, and scientific research.





Q. HAPS has the potential to revolutionize various sectors, from national security to disaster response and telecommunications. Comment. (15 marks)