Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Solar Aircraft Sets Altitude Record; Communications And Environmental Breakthroughs Expected

Date:
August 15, 2001
Source:
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Summary:
A new world record altitude of 96,500 feet over the Pacific Ocean was reached by the solar-powered Helios Prototype flying wing at 4:08 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST), Aug. 13, fulfilling the expectations of engineers from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and AeroVironment, Inc., builders of the 247-ft. wing. This is the first time a non-rocket powered aircraft has maintained flight this far above the earth. Sustained operations at that altitude promise to enable capabilities ranging from environmental monitoring to radically improved communications on earth to simulating flight in the atmosphere of Mars.

A new world record altitude of 96,500 feet over the Pacific Ocean was reached by the solar-powered Helios Prototype flying wing at 4:08 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time (HST), Aug. 13, fulfilling the expectations of engineers from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center and AeroVironment, Inc., builders of the 247-ft. wing. This is the first time a non-rocket powered aircraft has maintained flight this far above the earth. Sustained operations at that altitude promise to enable capabilities ranging from environmental monitoring to radically improved communications on earth to simulating flight in the atmosphere of Mars.

Daniel S. Goldin, NASA Administrator, who has been a strong supporter of solar powered flight, said, "This is a ground breaking accomplishment which will advance this technology to new heights."

The remotely-piloted wing took off from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on the Hawaiian island of Kauai at 8:48 a.m. HST. Flying at about 25 miles an hour, the mission lasted nearly 17 hours, landing at 1:43 a.m. Aug. 14.

The record flight sets the stage for follow-on missions that will use a regenerative fuel system now under development to enable Helios to remain aloft 24 hours a day for months at a time. The record altitude was achieved during daylight hours, relying on solar cells on the wing's surface to provide electrical power. Descent after dark was possible as the 14 electric motors were no longer needed to maintain altitude. During descent the propellers acted as generators, providing electrical power to control the aircraft.

"This is like going to the Olympics and setting a new world record for engineers," said NASA Dryden Flight Research Center solar aircraft project manager John Del Frate. "This achievement did not come easily. Thousands of things had to work right for something like this to come together."

Production variants of Helios might see service as long-term earth environmental monitors, as well as communications relays, reducing dependence on satellites and providing service in areas not covered by satellites. The successful flight at high altitude also provides NASA with information about flight on Mars, since the atmosphere at that height above earth replicates the atmosphere near the Martian surface.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. "NASA Solar Aircraft Sets Altitude Record; Communications And Environmental Breakthroughs Expected." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010815081052.htm>.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. (2001, August 15). NASA Solar Aircraft Sets Altitude Record; Communications And Environmental Breakthroughs Expected. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010815081052.htm
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. "NASA Solar Aircraft Sets Altitude Record; Communications And Environmental Breakthroughs Expected." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010815081052.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins