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Science File | IN BRIEF

Plane That Set Record for Altitude Crashes

June 28, 2003|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

An unmanned plane that set an altitude record two years ago broke apart during a test flight and crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

The flight was testing an advanced experimental fuel system in preparation for an endurance mission of almost two days that had been planned for next month.

The $15-million, solar-electric, propeller-driven Helios had a wingspan of 247 feet. It reached an altitude of 96,500 feet during a 2001 flight from Barking Sands missile range in Hawaii. The altitude, about 18 miles, was considered by NASA to be a record for a winged aircraft not powered by a rocket.

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