Press Release

NASA Engineers Push Back Frontiers on Solar Power

By SpaceRef Editor
December 31, 2002
Filed under ,

Creative and ever-more efficient use of solar energy is the
outcome of research ongoing at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center
in the Mojave Desert of California.

A major breakthrough occurred in April 2002 when engineers from
AeroVironment, Inc., and NASA successfully completed functional tests
of a prototype regenerative Energy Storage System for the Helios
Prototype solar-powered aircraft.

The prototype system contains a hydrogen-oxygen regenerative
fuel cell system that could be used to power the Helios aircraft
through the night in future flight demonstrations. The energy storage
system is the crucial element required to enable a solar-powered
aircraft to fly longer than a single day and potentially for
unlimited duration.

During June and July 2002, a breakthrough in telecommunications
capability was achieved with the successful relay of high-quality
television signals, third-generation cell phone transmissions and
Internet linkage through AeroVironment’s Pathfinder-Plus
solar-powered flying wing aircraft flying high over Hawaii. During
three demonstration flights, the uninhabited aircraft successfully
re-transmitted a high definition television (HDTV) signal and relayed
cellular audio and video calls from the stratosphere above the
Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Editors interested in story ideas about NASA Dryden’s solar
efforts may contact public affairs specialist Alan Brown at (661)
276-2665. Dryden’s web site at has more
information and downloadable high-resolution photos in its Gallery

SpaceRef staff editor.