Aurora Flight Sciences Announces Solar-Powered Autonomous Aircraft

Aurora Flight Sciences Announces Solar-Powered Autonomous Aircraft
Odysseus, the Solar-Powered Aircraft That Can Fly For Months
The Odysseus is a high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS), according to its creator, Aurora Flight Sciences. Aurora, a Boeing subsidiary, has developed a solar-powered, autonomous high-altitude aircraft that its claims “can effectively fly indefinitely.”

The Odysseus has a wingspan of 243 feet, a payload capacity of 55 pounds, and can offer 250 watts of continuous power to a payload it might be carrying, such as a satellite. Flying in the stratosphere, the Odysseus can go year-round and “maintain its position in any stratospheric conditions,” according to the companys website.

For Auroras CEO John Langford, the completion of Odysseus represents a personal journey. In the 1980s, Langford was a student at MIT whose interest in rocketry expanded to the concept of human-powered flight. Working with an eclectic group that included other engineers and Greek Olympic cyclist Kanellos Kanellopoulos, their group known as Dadelus 88 set the world record for human-powered flight distance that still stands.

Its a bold claim for the Virginia-based company, which is advertising Odysseus with qualities like the ability to “measure vegetation, ice coverage and flow rates, and even ground moisture.” The company also mentions intelligence as a possible use of Odysseus, noting that it doesnt need an operator on the ground to collect information.

The company says the Odysseus will be ready for its first flight in 2019—and hopes that its travels wont be as troublesome as those of its namesake Greek hero.

Built with advanced solar cells and lightweight material, the novel high-altitude pseudo-satellite called Odysseus can effectively fly indefinitely powered only by clean energy.

Aurora Flight Sciences Boeings Aurora Flight Services announced today the introduction of their high-altitude pseudo-satellite called Odysseus, a vessel it says is the worlds most capable solar-powered autonomous aircraft. And the claims are no joke!

The ship is an ultra-long endurance high-altitude platform featuring a combination of advanced solar cells and lightweight materials that allow it to effectively fly indefinitely powered only by the sun. If thats not impressive enough, Odysseus boasts the biggest payload capacity available in persistent solar aviation today.

The vision for Odysseus began back in 1988 when Aurora President and CEO John Langford, along with other MIT colleagues, broke the record in distance for human-powered flight with a 72-mile trip between the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini. The mission was called the Daedalus Project and its record still stands today.

“Aurora was founded by the idea that technology and innovation can provide powerful solutions to tough problems that affect all of humankind. Odysseus was an idea born out of Daedalus that is now a real solution to advancing the important research around climate change and other atmospheric chemistry problems,” said Aurora President and CEO John Langford.