Price $50 (+ s/h)
The Proteus is a unique aircraft designed for high-altitude, long-duration science or telecommunications missions. Designed by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites at their Mojave, California, development facility, the Proteus features an unconventional tandem-wing, twin-boom configuration with two rear-mounted turbofan engines. Normally flown by two pilots in a pressurized cabin, the Proteus also has potential to perform its missions as an uninhabited air vehicle (UAV) flown remotely from the ground or autonomously. To that end, NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center is assisting Scaled Composites in development of a basic autopilot system and a SATCOM-based uplink/downlink data system for both aircraft and payload data under NASA's Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology (ERAST) program. Rutan's design allows for Proteus to be reconfigured for differing missions, such as telecommunications relay, atmospheric research, commercial imaging, and launch of small space satellites. The aircraft features modular construction, including a removable center-fuselage "barrel" that can carry the payload either internally or externally in a under-belly pod. Removable wingtip sections can be added or removed to tailor the Proteus' aerodynamics for various external payloads or for maximum altitude. The aircraft is designed to cruise at altitudes from 59,000 to more than 65,000 feet for up to 18 hours.
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