Friday, September 5, 2008


A solar powered plane has set a new world endurance record for a
flight by an unmanned aircraft.

British-built Zephyr-6 stayed in the air for more than three days
flying through the night on batteries it had recharged in sunlight.

The Zephyr flew non-stop for 82 hours, 37 minutes and beats the
current official world record for unmanned flight set by the US robot
plane Global Hawk - of 30 hours, 24 minutes.

The flight took place between 28 and 31 July flown on autopilot and
via satellite communication.

The plane flies on solar power generated by amorphous silicon solar
arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that are glued over the
aircraft's wings. The propellers are powered from lithium-sulphur
batteries, which are topped up during the day.

The designers of the Zephyr successfully overcame a major problem of
having sufficient power storage with the light-weighting systems.
Lithium sulphur had been found to have double the energy density of
lithium polymer batteries.

Engineers from the Farnborough- based company are now collaborating
with the American aerospace giant Boeing to build the biggest plane to
take to the sky powered by the sun and capable of carrying a 450-kilo

US commanders said the plane would be able to maintain its position
over a particular spot on the Earth's surface uninterrupted for five

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