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Integrated Energy

World record flight by the Airbus Zephyr S

The solar-powered Zephyr S pseudo-satellite stays airborne for almost 26 days on its maiden flight – longer than any other aircraft to date.

22 Aug. 2018
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World record flight by the Airbus Zephyr S (Photo: Airbus Zephyr)

The Zephyr S made by European aircraft manufacturer Airbus is the first series production aircraft in the Zephyr HAPS (high altitude pseudo-satellite) program. The pseudo-satellite, as the company refers to it, launched its maiden flight in the State of Arizona on July 11 and remained airborne for 25 days, 23 hours and seven minutes. The flight is already pending recognition as an official world record.

The Zephyr S spans 25 meters, weighs 75 kilograms and can carry up to five times its own weight. It is powered by two electric propellers, powered by solar cells on the wings. The nightly power supply is provided by lithium-sulfur batteries that store electricity during the day. The "unmanned aerial vehicle" (UAV), originally developed by the British armaments and research company QinetiQ , flies above weather patterns and air traffic at a height of more than 20 km. It can be used for military reconnaissance or border protection as well as civil protection, for example to detect forest fires, or as a satellite-like communication station.