NASA's Solar-Powered Wing Takes off in Hawaii

August 13, 2001 by Jeff Shepard

NASA's solar-powered flying wing, the Helios, took off on August 13, 2001, from Barking Sands, HI, on an attempt to reach a world altitude record. The 1,557lb Helios prototype is driven by 14 propellers turned by 2HP electric motors. The motors get their electricity from 65,000 solar cells covering the wing, which has a span of 247ft. The Helios is believed to be capable of reaching an altitude of 103,000ft.

According to the flight instrument panel monitored on the ground, the Helios was climbing at roughly 190ft per minute and traveling at 25mph.