Solar-powered climate research drone takes flight
April 23, 2019 -- Odysseus, a massive solar-powered unmanned aircraft designed to fly continuously for up to three months at high altitudes, will be used to perform climate and atmospheric research.
Designed by Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing that specializes in unmanned aerial vehicles, Odysseus has a wingspan of 74 metres, and can offer 250 watts of continuous power to a 25kg payload such as a satellite.
The aircraft will fly in the stratosphere, well above weather conditions and other aircraft and can cover a massive geographic area while maintaining contact with a station on the ground.
Odysseus can fly continuously for up to three months at a time, giving it a distinct advantage over UAVs that need to land and recharge. Because it's solar powered, the craft produces zero emissions.
Aurora will operate Odysseus from Puerto Rico, selected because it is at about 20 degrees latitude and on the East Coast, but it will be remotely operated from the company’s headquarters in Manassas, Virginia.
The drone will be shipped to Puerto Rico in late February 2019 and it is scheduled to make its first flight on April 23, 2019.
- Aurora Builds Stratospheric Solar Aircraft With Boeing’s Backing (Aviation Week)
- Boeing's solar-powered climate research drone takes flight in 2019 (Engadget)
- Odysseus, the Solar-Powered Aircraft That Can Fly for Months (Popular Mechanics)
- Global Reach, Airborne for Months, Powered by the Sun (Aurora)