Solar Drone Aims for a Record

A British company is hoping that the Zephyr, a solar-powered drone, can stay aloft above the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground until Friday. </p> <p>
QinetiQ A British company is hoping that the Zephyr, a solar-powered drone, can stay aloft above the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground until Friday. 

This month we reported on the flight of the Solar Impulse, an experimental aircraft that broke the world record for continuous solar-powered manned flight by staying aloft for 26 straight hours.

But the Solar Impulse is not the only solar aircraft breaking records. For more than a week, the Zephyr, a solar-powered drone, has been circling high above the Army’s Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona.

QinetiQ, a British defense technology company, developed the craft, which could have broad military and commercial surveillance applications. “The plan is for it to stay airborne until this Friday,” said Douglas Millard, a QinetiQ spokesman. “At that point it will have been in the air for two weeks.”

If the Zephyr can safely return to Earth at that point, it will have smashed the official world record for continuous unmanned flight, now held by Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk drone. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, a governing body for aeronautic world records, is observing the flight. Read more…

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