Relive NASA's ill-fated, solar-powered Helios Prototype through images

3

In 1999 NASA's solar-powered, unmanned Helios Prototype aircraft took to the air with the goal of achieving sustained flight at 100,000 feet — and now you can relive the experience through images. As part of its daily "history of spaceflight" series, Space.com has posted a 13-year-old photo of the massive craft — which had a wingspan of 247 feet — but if you want more, NASA has a pretty large archive of images spanning the Helios' lifetime, from 1999 to 2003. While it never cracked 100,000 feet, in 2001 the craft reached an altitude of 96,863 feet, setting a new world record for sustained horizontal flight for a winged aircraft. Unfortunately, in 2003 the prototype came to an unceremonious end when it experienced structural failure during a flight on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which caused it to crash into the Pacific Ocean. Not only was the Helios destroyed, but its experimental fuel cell system was also lost for good.

More from The Verge

Back to top ^
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot username?

We'll email it to you.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Try another email?

Forgot username?

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.
Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_5345_tracker