US military plans to build a mighty unmanned wing-ship able to cruise the stratosphere on flights lasting five years have moved forward with the announcement that flight tests of the "Vulture II" prototype are expected to commence next year. Vulture II is being produced by US aerospace mammoth Boeing, building on its previous …
Vulture 2? As in the successor to Vulture 1? So where does the Playmonaut sit?
My hat goes off to you sir...
"DARPA, the paradigm-punishing technological topsy-turvination boffinry bureau"
... I HAVE to find an excuse to use that phrase in conversation. Well done Lewi, have a beer on me.
Those pesky numerals!
You see, theirs is Vulture I ("Vulture First", as per the conventions for reading numbers in roman notation), while ours is Vulture 1 ("Vulture One", again by convention). Though I'd love to hear what trademark lawyers would have to say about this...
Vulture I vs Vulture 1
If that's their game, it's the spaceplane equivalent of Basil Fawlty's "it's a semi-tone higher!"
Shirley El Reg has the trademark on the Vulture Moniker, especially in relation to space planes?
I think its product placement. They're desperate for cash you see.
Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
400 ft wingspan?
I think commercial runways are only about 160ft wide. Given that these things have a slow leisurely flight speed the runway could be wider than it is long. Assuming that is, you need a runway for the landing. The Zephyr was hand launched by three blokes.
But whats the payload?
I appreciate that staying aloft on solar power alone is no small feat, but how much energy is left over for the devices onboard? I can see a situation where my pseudo-satellite phone becomes less effective the murkier the weather. Or, if I'm downloading an extra large file and using excess bandwidth, I don't want to suck the power out of the engines. It will bring a whole new meaning to 'The file i downloaded crashed the internet'.
Why "plane shaped"
The concept of a (possibly lift generating body) airship has got to reduce the required power for flight.
Or a lifting delta...
I can't imagine than "long thin straight rigid wing" is absolutely ideal - it just doesn't look it...
Might be limitations to do with required speed to overcome any wind...
The main problem with airships is that lighter-than-air is difficult to achieve in the stratosphere. Air pressure is around 1000 mb at sea level (IIRC). The stratosphere is between 1 and 10mb.
So while it can be done, it's not easy. At least an aerodynamic wing relies on the pressure differential of what little air there is.
Actually, "long thin straight rigid"
_is_ pretty much ideal as far as conventional heavier-than-air contraptions are concerned. Minimal wing tip vortex induced loss of energy. Delta wing is the opposite (being just two big wing tips glued together).
If that flies over my house
making that racket I'm shooting it down.
Runways? Where we're going we don't need runways!
Or more informatively - how many runways do you think there were in the world in about 1930 or so? Mostly it was just grass airstrips. If you've got a fairly light aircraft (and this beastie is likely to be the epitome of lightness) then you don't actually need concrete underfoot. Make yourself a 400ft-wide trolley to support it during launch, and tow the trolley along until this thing reaches takeoff speed and leaves the trolley.
Hopefully one with better wheels than the trolleys I'm used to down Sainsbury's.
should be read as a voice-over
These are the voyages of the strato-plane Enterprise, it's 5 year mission -
To covertly soar where no other UAV has gone before.
To seek out new forms of surveillance, and to spy on those below.
All hail the Rise of the Machines.
Plenty of runways are over 400' long. This thing should be able to take off going across rather than along.
i, for one
Welcome my sun-sucking, sky-soaring, vulturesome overlord.
Why stop at one.
Surely they should form a *squadron*.
You can guess what old cartoons are on that DVD.
What is it with the music?
Is there any particular law, regulation, standard, grant-condition that specifies that movies or animations depicting predicted or actual results of projects MUST be accompanied by music? And if yes, is there an additional paragraph stating that the music MUST be despair-inducing?
If it runs out of juice, maybe they could beam microwave energy at it. Provided it can bear the weight of a suitable receiver.
Thanks, Lewis, for posting that video clip
- surely one of the most informative ever produced by the human mind. Three cheers for DARPA !...