posted on Aug, 6 2005 @ 05:56 AM
Called high-altitude long-endurance (Hale) craft, they can be crucial information-gatherers for disaster management, crop management, coastal
management, and mapping; they can be more flexible and cheaper options than low-orbit satellites, particularly for developing nations. ..called
"eternal planes". It is hoped that a new Hale UAV vehicle, built by ..a UK defence research lab QinetiQ, will push the boundaries for eternal planes
a bit further.
It is called Mercator
. It has a wingspan of 16m and a light weight of 27kg. Together with its hi-tech ground station, it makes up the equally
grand-sounding project known as Pegasus.
"No one has produced an eternal airplane yet,
" Andrew Rogoyski, head of QinetiQ's space division explained to the BBC News website.
In 2001, the Nasa-backed Helios reached a record altitude for a non-rocket-powered winged aircraft, climbing to 96,863ft (29.5km), but it crashed
in 2003 on a flight from the US Navy's Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii.
"One of these craft could get anywhere in the world in 24 hours,
" explains Dr Rogoyski. A UAV will be able to keep up over a particular part
of the world for months at a time, whereas satellites have to continue travelling in orbit." Precise, high-quality images and data can be sent
back in under 30 minutes to a mobile ground station which can then disseminate images online.
We use a lightweight solar array coupled to
lithium-based rechargeable batteries.
They are incorporated into the carbon fibre airframe
which gives us a low-mass structure capable of
flying at high altitude. The technology we have right now will enable us to stay up in the air for 60 hours,
but we will not be trying that
tomorrow," says Dr Davey. "Trials are planned for next year."
Full article/details ...
Hmmm..these guys are always upto something.