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Swift HALE, an unmanned aircraft system developed by Swift Engineering with NASA, demonstrated how high-altitude, long-endurance flight can expand science research in a cost-efficient and timely manner. (Credit: Swift Engineering)

NASA and Swift Engineering of San Clemente, CA, completed a flight test of the Swift High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial system. The 72-foot solar-powered HALE weighs less than 180 pounds, flies 10- to 15-pound payloads at a time, and is designed to operate at an altitude of 70,000 feet for 30 days or more.

Aircraft like Swift's HALE could augment the observations of satellites orbiting Earth and similarly observe Earth on a focused, regional level, faster and more cost-efficiently than a satellite.

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