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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Ground-to-Air Laser Power System Keeps a Plane Aloft for Two Straight Days

•, By Clay Dillow
 Midair refueling of manned aircraft currently calls for the dispatching of a huge tanker plane and a delicate midair link-up between two moving aircraft. The unmanned aerial vehicles of the future may have a much easier time staying aloft for days at a time--indefinitely, really--via laser refueling systems that beam energy from the ground to aircraft on the wing. Lockheed Martin’s Stalker Unmanned Aerial System recently demonstrated the potential of these emerging laser power systems by maintaining continuous operation for 48 straight hours.

To be fair, this wasn’t a flight test. Lockheed’s Stalker was modified for indoor flight and placed in a wind tunnel under flight conditions, so the laser system didn't have to track the moving aircraft in flight. But the outcome was extremely promising nonetheless.

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