“NASA's Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus, Centurion and Helios Prototype were an evolutionary series of solar- and fuel-cell-system-powered unmanned aerial vehicles. AeroVironment, Inc. developed the vehicles under NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program. They were built to develop the technologies that would allow long-term, high-altitude aircraft to serve as “atmospheric satellites”, to perform atmospheric research tasks as well as serve as communications platforms”. – Wikipedia

Photo: The solar-electric Helios Prototype flying wing is flies over the Hawaiian islands of Niihau and Lehua during the first solar-powered test flight July 14, 2001 from the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, HI. The 18-hour flight was a functional checkout of the aircraft's systems and performance in preparation for an attempt to reach sustained flight at 100,000 feet altitude later in the summer. (Photo Courtesy of NASA/Getty Images)
14 Jul 2011 09:24:00