Aviation - Avions NASA-Prototypes
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The remotely-piloted Altus I aircraft lands on Rogers Dry Lake adjacent to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif. The short series of test flights sponsored by the Naval Postgraduate School in early August, 1997, were designed to demonstrate the ability of the experimental craft to cruise at altitudes above 40,000 feet for sustained durations. On its final flight Aug. 15, the Altus I reached an altitude of 43,500 feet. The Altus I and its sister ship, the Altus II, are variants of the Predator surveillance drone built by General Atomics/Aeronautical Systems, Inc. They are designed for high-altitude, long-duration scientific sampling missions, and are powered by turbocharged piston engines. The Altus I incorporates a single-stage turbocharger, while the Altus II, built for NASA’s Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology program, sports a two-stage turbocharger to enable the craft to fly at altitudes above 55,000 feet.