US drone crashes hours before breaking 63-year-old record for longest flight

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After more than two months of uninterrupted flying, a solar-powered drone that was being evaluated by the US military crashed in Arizona this month. The Zephyr S spent a total of 64 days in the air and came close to breaking the record for longest flight ever. The unmanned aircraft was launched by the US military as part of a continuous air sensor experiment. Developed by aerospace company Airbus, the drone flew high into the stratosphere and collected vital data during its flight.

However, on 19 August the drone lost contact with ground controllers and crashed before being lost, a . According to report good By Simple Flying. The Zephyr S was previously tested by the Airbus Defense and Space team, but the long-haul flights lasted more than two weeks, this time with the drone achieving an impressive flight duration of over 64 days.

While the flight of the drone came to an abrupt end, the time spent in the air was not wasted. The developers of the drone and the US military collected data from the plane while it was cruising the stratosphere. Now, the team is analyzing the data extensively and will use it for research purposes, as per the report.

“After 64 days of stratospheric flight and fulfilling multiple mission objectives, Zephyr experienced conditions that ended its current flight. No personal injuries were reported. Our team is currently carrying 1500 of stratospheric mission data. The valuable experience of ultra-long endurance flight of this prototype has proved to be a positive step towards the Army’s high-altitude platform goals,” an Airbus representative told the website.

With a wingspan of 75 feet and a weight of 166 pounds, the ultra-light aircraft can cruise for longer periods at higher altitudes. It is equipped with solar panels at its rear that power it during its high-endurance flights by absorbing sunlight during the day to keep the drone operational during the day and at night.

Zephyr cruises high in the stratosphere and lives above terrestrial climates. This provides it with plenty of sunlight for its long flight. It broke a 63-year-old record for the longest recorded flight, which is currently held by two pilots, who flew for 64 days and 22 hours.

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