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SolarEagle Unmanned Plane to Fly for 5 Years Without Landing : TreeHugger

September 29, 2010

SolarEagle Unmanned Plane to Fly for 5 Years Without Landing : TreeHugger.

The folks over at Treehugger has put out this article on a potential satellite replacement vehicle. This thing could potentially bring down the costs of satellite placement and retrieval to where communication and broadcast prices and abilities could be passed down to the general public.

“SolarEagle is a uniquely configured, large unmanned aircraft designed to eventually remain on station at stratospheric altitudes for at least five years,” said Pat O’Neil, Boeing Phantom Works program manager for Vulture II. “That’s a daunting task, but Boeing has a highly reliable solar-electric design that will meet the challenge in order to perform persistent communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from altitudes above 60,000 feet.” The aircraft will have highly efficient electric motors and propellers and a high-aspect-ratio, 400-foot wing for increased solar power and aerodynamic performance. (source)

The deal is for Boeing to build a full-scale demonstrator and fly it for the first time in 2014. The initial flight should be 30 days, beating the Zephyr’s record (though by then maybe the Zephyr will have a new, longer record).

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