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Boeing’s hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye has taken a major step toward its first flight.
The high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned airborne system’s test team achieved three significant test points on Oct. 31 at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (see video below):
“These integrated fuel and engine tests are some of the most important tests for Phantom Eye,” said Drew Mallow, Phantom Eye program manager for Boeing’s Phantom Works. “The propulsion and fuel system is one of the most innovative parts of Phantom Eye and these tests with liquid hydrogen helped verify the entire propulsion system as it would be used during actual flights.”
“The propulsion and fuel system is one of the most innovative parts of Phantom Eye and these tests with liquid hydrogen helped verify the entire propulsion system as it would be used during actual flights.”
Since arriving in California in March from St. Louis, where Phantom Eye was built, Phantom Eye’s airframe and systems have been tested and re-tested to ensure the aircraft is ready for flight.
“There’s only one Phantom Eye, so vehicle readiness is paramount before first flight,” Mallow said. “We won’t fly if the vehicle isn’t ready and we can’t fly if the weather in California’s high desert doesn’t cooperate, and this time of year weather is very questionable, but we’re hopeful.”
Phantom Eye is designed to fly at 65,000 feet for up to four days, using two 2.3-liter, four-cylinder, 150-horsepower hydrogen engines. It has a 150-foot wingspan and was developed to demonstrate persistent intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance and perform communications relays.