Press Release

Helios Prototype to Attempt Record Flight This Weekend

By SpaceRef Editor
August 9, 2001
Filed under ,

A new world’s altitude record for a non-rocket-powered
aircraft could be achieved over Hawaii this weekend by the
NASA-sponsored Helios Prototype solar-electric flying wing. The
flight from the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on
the island of Kauai is tentatively set for Saturday, Aug. 11, with
backup flight days scheduled for Aug. 12 and 13, and Aug. 16 through

The Helios Prototype is believed capable of reaching
altitudes in the vicinity of 100,000 feet under ideal conditions.
Engineers estimate the aircraft could reach at least 95,000 feet on
this mission with 100,000 feet still a possibility, well above the
current record of 85,068 feet for sustained horizontal flight set by
a SR-71 in 1966.

Designed and built by AeroVironment, Inc., of Monrovia,
Calif., the ultra-lightweight Helios Prototype’s development is
funded and managed under NASA’s Environmental Research Aircraft and
Sensor Technology (ERAST) project. The demonstration flight should
validate the Helios’ capability as a platform for high-altitude
environmental monitoring and atmospheric sampling missions.
News media representatives planning on-site coverage of the
flight activity should contact the PMRF Public Affairs Office at
(808) 335-4742 no later than noon Friday, Aug. 10, for credentials
and access.

Status reports will be issued to media via e-mail
periodically during and after the flight. Media representatives
desiring to receive these status reports should provide their e-mail
address to Alan Brown, NASA Dryden public affairs, at Status reports will also be posted on the website as they become available. A NASA public
affairs representative will also be available by phone at (808)
335-4768 to respond to media inquiries.

B-roll video footage of the previous checkout flight will be
fed on NASA Television during the regularly scheduled NASA Video File
on Friday, Aug. 10, at noon Eastern time (9 a.m. Pacific time).
Post-flight video B-roll footage of the record flight will be
available on the first weekday after the flight actually occurs on
the NASA Video File at noon Eastern (9 a.m. Pacific). NASA TV is
available on the GE-2 satellite, transponder 9-C, at 85 degrees west
longitude, vertical polarization, with video on 3880 MHz and audio on
6.8 MHz. Any changes to the line-up will appear on the NASA video
file advisory on the web at:

A limited number of dubs on Beta-SP will be available to
broadcast media representatives on-site at PMRF approximately four
hours after takeoff, and from the NASA Dryden public affairs office
at Edwards, Calif., two days after the flight occurs.
Still photographs in high resolution will be available on the website approximately four hours after takeoff,
and on the Dryden website at two days after the

SpaceRef staff editor.