Sporting a 59 foot wingspan, the Qinetiq unmanned aerial vehicle is likely capable of setting a new world record for sustained unmanned flight. The previous record was set in 2001 by a jet-powered vehicle. The Qinetiq Zephyr, on the other hand, is powered by nothing but sunlight. The solar craft was able to stay airborne over the course of two nights using solar energy stored on-board during the day. The team in charge of the vehicle claims that it has stayed airborne for 54 hours, but this is not a record yet because officials were not present for the test flight.

Regular readers may already know that this is not the first unmanned solar flier. The Zephyr weighs about 68 pounds and is made of composite materials. The plane uses an efficient propeller design to sustain flight and uses lithium-sulphur batteries. Hopefully, the team will be able to break the record soon and gain some additional credibility to sustained solar flight.

[Source: BBC]


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