What would you think if we told you that DARPA is considering a plane that would fly non-stop for 5 years without burning a single drop of fuel? They are, and it's called the Vulture program, which aims to produce an aircraft able to carry a 1,000 pound payload, pump out 5kW of onboard power, and keep up enough speed to withstand the winds it'll encounter at 60,000 to 90,000 feet.

How does DARPA think that the Vulture should be powered? There are currently three options under consideration. The first one is nuclear and - wait, this is not under consideration. The second one is to refuel the aircraft in flight. This favors fuel cells because they are more efficient and reliable than internal-combustion and gas-turbine engines. The other option is solar energy, either solar thermal, which is unproven, or solar electric, which is a proven technology.

[Source: Flight Global via Engadget]



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