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HELIOS TEST FOILED BY WEATHER, RESET FOR TODAY.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE - NASA and a Monrovia-based contractor will try again today to conduct the first flight of an aircraft powered by the sun.

High winds Friday over a test range off the coast of the Hawaiian island of Kauai forced the cancellation of a test flight of Helios, a propeller-driven flying wing with a wingspan greater than that of a 747.

``Once the winds die down a bit, we can go forward,'' National Aeronautics and Space Administration spokesman Alan Brown said.

Developed by AeroVironment Inc. of Monrovia, Helios has two objectives: to reach 100,000 feet and to demonstrate nonstop flying for at least four days above 50,000 feet.

The attempt to reach 100,000 feet could come as early as this month. Reaching 100,000 feet would shatter the existing altitude record for a propeller-driven airplane by more than 20,000 feet.

The long-duration flight is scheduled for 2003.

The flight testing is being conducted under NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology program. ERAST is aimed at developing technologies leading to the creation of aircraft that can fly at very high altitudes and stay there for hours - even days - at a time.

Such aircraft could serve as inexpensive platforms for instruments to study Earth and its atmosphere. They also could help study natural and manmade changes to the atmosphere and the world's oceans.

NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards oversees the ERAST program. Initial development flights of Helios under battery power, as well as those of earlier versions of the airplane, were conducted at Dryden.

Helios is only 12 feet long, but it has a 247-foot wingspan - about 100 feet longer than that of a Boeing 747 jetliner. The airplane's cruising speed ranges from 19 to 25 mph.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 7, 2001
Words:299
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