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Solar-powered spy plane will fly for five years

solar-panel3.jpgWhy is it that spies always get the cool stuff? Take James Bond. Greenbang would kill for a watch that shoots lasers, an underwater car or an exploding pen. Not to protect Queen and country though, more to show off to her mates on Friday night out.

Now, the real life Qs of the US intelligence services have plans to build a spy plane that – wait for it – can stay in the sky for five years thanks to solar power.

Managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – that’s the US Department of Defence’s R&D boffins to you – Project Vulture, as it’s known, will see the development of a plane that can carry out missions to gather information on the baddies. It’ll work just like a satellite, but will get dressed up as an airplane.

Aurora Flight Sciences will build the unmanned plane with other contractors, such as BAE, providing the electronics. Odysseus, as they’ve called it, will run on solar power during daylight and on stored solar energy during the night. Now the companies just have to work out how to keep the energy flowing while Odysseus is airborne for five years.

Aurora predicts that Odysseus could also be used for monitoring the weather and telecommunications.

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