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Aurora indefinitely delays first flight of Odysseus ultra-long-endurance UAV

08 July 2019
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Aurora Flight Sciences has indefinitely delayed the first flight of its Odysseus solar-powered HALE UAV demonstrator nine months after it unveiled the aircraft. Source: Aurora Flight Sciences

Key Points

  • Aurora is delaying the first flight of its Odysseus solar powered high-altitude UAV
  • The company unveiled the aircraft in November

Aurora Flight Sciences has indefinitely delayed the first flight of its Odysseus solar-powered high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology demonstrator nine months after unveiling the platform to the public.

"Odysseus is an active development programme that offers a unique capability, which is why we are taking more time to explore customer use cases before pursuing first flight," Aurora spokesperson Luisa Guerra said on 21 June. "Our holistic approach to prototyping enables us to provide efficient, safe, and future-forward solutions for customers, which, in the case of Odysseus, represent a wide variety of needs and industries."

Aurora twice delayed Odysseus' first flight before delaying it indefinitely. The company predicted at Odysseus' unveiling that first flight would take place in the second quarter of 2019. Guerra later said on 15 April that the aircraft's first flight was scheduled for mid-2019. Guerra and Aurora-parent Boeing on 8 July declined further comment on Odysseus.

Although Aurora announced Odysseus in November 2018, the aircraft is far from a new effort. A previous design of an Aurora HALE aircraft was one of three conceptual designs awarded one-year Phase 1 development contracts by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in April 2008. This was for the agency's Vulture programme. The modern Odysseus was developed without DARPA funding.

This was for a 'pseudo-satellite' unmanned aircraft able to remain on station for extremely long periods. The idea behind these ultra-HALE UAVs, or high altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS), is to act similar to on-orbit spacecraft.

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