Solar-powered flight beats record

Posted by Laura Grant on August 25, 2008
Posted in Business, Renewable energy

A solar-powered aircraft, the QinetiQ Zephyr, has reportedly broken the official world record for unmanned flight. It flew for 82 hours 37 minutes, exceeding the 30 hours 24 minutes set by Global Hawk in 2001, QinetiQ says.

The Zephyr is a fragile-looking ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre aircraft that is launched by hand. “By day it flies on solar power generated by amorphous silicon solar arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft’s wings. By night it is powered by rechargeable lithium-sulphur batteries, which are recharged during the day using solar power,” QinetiQ says in a press release.

The flight trial took place at the end of July over the Sonoran Desert in the United States. It was flown via satellite communications to a maximum altitude of more than 60,000ft.

The Zephyr, which is officially known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), was designed for military use but it looks like it could have civilian applications.

Via :: Crave

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