Unmanned Solar Powered Aircraft Record Attempt

Hard on the heels of Solar Impulse’s record breaking 24 hour flight, the BBC reports an unmanned solar powered aircraft is about to undergo a 2 week non-stop mission.
  
The hand-launched Zephyr Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) weighs only 40kg and has a wingspan of up to 22 metres. Solar cells no thicker than sheets of paper cove the aircraft’s wings and charge lithium sulphur batteries during the day to store energy for night-time operations.
  
According to QinetiQ, makers of the Zephyr, the aircraft has the potential to stay airborne for months at a time and can fly above normal commercial air-lanes and most weather conditions. QinetiQ has developed autopilot functions allowing the Zephyr to navigate between waypoints and over very long distances, with no need for permanent manual control.
  
Primarily designed as an observation and communications resource for military use, the Zephyr has civil applications for exploration, monitoring weather conditions and stratospheric science missions.
  
The Zephyr already holds the unofficial world record unmanned flight duration with a 82-hour journey July 2008, but the presence of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) at the next attempt will make any endurance mark set by Zephyr “official” says the BBC
  
The QinetiQ team had also been watching Solar Impulse’s recent record-breaking journey and according to John Saltmarsh, Qinetiq’s Zephyr project manager; such achievements show the age of solar powered aircraft has arrived.