The system has two components. One is a set of turbines attached to a kite that generates electricity. The other is a ground-based generator connected to the kite and powered by the kite’s motion.
The reeling phase of the kite allows it to use 10 percent less energy, making the system 90 percent efficient. Another advantage is the design of the wind turbine blades that allows it to spin faster and further from its hub; this configuration produces more electrical output.
The system is equipped with pattern recognition software similar to Microsoft’s Kinect. This can determine the position, orientation and speed of the kite. In addition, a flight-control program keeps the kite flying in a figure eight pattern.
NASA is asking permission to test their prototype, which has a wingspan of 10 feet. The ideal altitude for operating and testing airborne systems is calculated to be around 2000 feet.
If the system is successful, NASA also intends to use it on Mars and other planets.