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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Plane Flies For 5 years No Refueling Needed

DARPA "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency" have created an unmanned plane that can, in theory, stay up in the air for five years non-stop. The Vulture is an airplane that works like a satellite, but is not controlled by the pull of gravity better known as orbiting. DARPA has set the presidence for Vulture as five years on duty with a 1,000 pound payload, 5kW of electrical power and a pretty decent loiter speed to stay on course for 99% of the time against winds encountered at 90,000-60,000ft altitude.
"Vulture could be positioned over a battlefield, at 65,000ft versus 260 miles,” Say the directers of this new technology. Operating as a pseudo-satellite in the stratosphere and not low Earth orbit would provide a 65dB gain in communications capability, they say, and significantly increase on board sensor resolution.

It’s still left unsaid how the craft will fly at the prescribed 60,000 to 90,000-foot height for so long, but DARPA has told us it is not by radioactive fuel, I believe it might have to do with something like fuel cells, hydrogen or solar, or a combination of. NASA, the originator of the graphic above, could have something to do with the new technology that will accomplish this feat. I know I have seen a picture of this prototype about ten years ago related to NASA, however DARPA is not naming any type of partners in this project.