Sun, Jul 25, 2010
Solar Powered Aircraft Shattered Flight Records
The solar-powered Zephyr UAV has landed after more than 14 days
of continuous flight powered by nothing more than sunlight.
Qinetiq, the UK-based company which built the UAV, said it had
nothing more to prove by extending the flight any longer.
The Zephyr has shattered all endurance records for unmanned
flight with it's 14+ days aloft. The plane was hand-launched at the
Yuma proving grounds in Arizona on July 9th. It surpassed the
previous record for an unmanned aerial vehicle after only 31
The Zephyr flew as high as 60,000 feet to give its solar panels
maximum exposure to the sun. The panels not only powered the
aircraft's engine, but also charged the on-board lithium-sulphur
batteries which kept it aloft through the night.
"We are just really delighted with the performance," project
manager Jon Saltmarsh told the BBC. He said the Zephyr is now no
longer considered to be "experimental", and was ready to begin the
operational phase of its life.
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