SOLAR-POWERED HELIOS SET FOR TEST FLIGHT.Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE Edwards Air Force Base, U.S. military installation, 301,000 acres (121,805 hectares), S Calif., NE of Lancaster; est. 1933. It is one of the largest air force bases in the United States and has the world's longest runway. - Researchers will try today to fly a solar-powered airplane higher than any propeller-driven aircraft has ever flown.
Unmanned, fragile-looking and with a 247-foot-wingspan, Helios is aimed for 100,000 feet on a flight that could take 17 hours - at 19 to 25 mph.
``Right now, with the weather predictions we have, we're hoping to reach 103,000 feet,'' NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. spokeswoman Jenny Baer-Riedhart said Friday.
The flight will be conducted over the U.S. Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility Located in the State of Hawaii on the western shores of Kauai, the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Barking Sands (IATA: BKH, ICAO: PHBK) is the world's largest instrumented, multi-dimensional testing and training missile range. on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The flight was originally scheduled for Saturday but was postponed for some preflight pre·flight
Preparing for or occurring before flight.
tr.v. pre·flight·ed, pre·flight·ing, pre·flights
To check (an aircraft) for airworthiness before flight. equipment checks.
The flight will demonstrate the Helios' ability to monitor the ground from high altitude Conventionally, an altitude above 10,000 meters (33,000 feet). See also altitude. and gather atmospheric samples.
The project has two objectives: to reach 100,000 feet and to demonstrate nonstop flying for at least four days above 50,000 feet.
The long-duration flight is scheduled for 2003.
The flight testing is conducted under NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology program, which is developing technologies for high-altitude aircraft that can fly for days at a time.
The aircraft was built by AeroVironment Inc., a Monrovia, Calif. company.
Such aircraft could be used to study the Earth, the atmosphere, and natural and manmade climatic changes.
In July, Helios flew an 18-hour flight that reached an altitude of 76,200 feet. The 18-hour flight set an unofficial endurance mark for solar-powered aircraft, beating the previous mark by two hours.
The previous mark of 80,000 feet was set in August 1998 by another AeroVironment Inc. aircraft, named Pathfinder.