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Prototype of the solar-powered flight, the NASA aircraft, Helios, flew almost exactly one hundred years after the historic flight of the Wright brothers, on December 17, 1903.
Photographed here at 3,300 meters in the skies of northwest Kauai, Hawaii, in August 2001, Helios, whose flight is directed by remote control, travels at 40 kilometers per hour. The aircraft was built by AeroVironment Inc. with ultralight wings and with 14 electric motors.
Covered with solar cells, the impressive wings of Helios, of almost 83 meters, exceed the wingspan of a Boeing 747. Lifting the flight during the day, the prototypical aircraft has finally managed to reach an altitude of almost 33,000 meters, breaking the record of flight not rocket driven.
Helios was built with state-of-the-art technology, testing it in a sparse atmosphere, such as the one at 33,000 meters high, which would simulate airplane flight conditions in the Martian atmosphere.
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