Airbus’ Solar-Powered Zephyr Smashes Flight Duration Record on Maiden Outing (newatlas.com)

A solar-powered aircraft from the European aerospace giant Airbus has completed a maiden flight lasting 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes. In doing so, the production model unmanned solar-powered aircraft set the record for the longest flight ever made by any aircraft. From a report: Originally built by British defence company Qinetiq and now owned by Airbus, the Zephyr aircraft is designed to soar through the stratosphere for months at a time by drawing on the power of the sun. It is similar to Facebook’s now defunct Aquila aircraft in this sense, and is hoped to one day provide satellite-like services with the flexibility of an unmanned drone. The latest version of the Zephyr weighs just 75 kg (165 lb), but is able to carry up to five times its own weight. Flying above weather and other air traffic at 70,000 ft (21,300 m), the aircraft can be controlled from the ground and has the potential to carry all kinds of payloads, be they to collect high-resolution imagery, provide voice communications or, as was the idea with Aquila, beam internet service to underserved areas. […] It took off from Arizona on the 11th of July and has only now come down to Earth, a total of 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes later. This was the first outing for the production model Zephyr S, and the team is already setting its sights on its next voyage.

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