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NASA Dryden Past Projects: Perseus A Remotely Piloted Aircraft
August 20, 2009

Perseus A high-altitude remotely controlled research aircraft being towed.Perseus high altitude remotely piloted aircraft being towed in flight.

The Perseus A Remotely Piloted Aircraft incorporated a closed-cycle combustion system that mixed oxygen carried aboard the aircraft with engine exhaust to compensate for the thin air at high altitudes. The Perseus A was towed into the air by a ground vehicle and its engine started after it became airborne. Prior to landing, the engine was stopped, the propeller locked in horizontal position, and the Perseus A glided to a landing on its landing gear

Two Perseus A aircraft were built and made 21 flights in 1993-1994. One of the Perseus A aircraft reached over 50,000 feet in altitude on its third test flight. Although one of the Perseus A aircraft was destroyed in a crash after a vertical gyroscope failed in flight, the other aircraft completed its test program and remains on display at Aurora's facility in Manassas.

Owner NASA
Manufacturer Aurora Flight Sciences Corp.
Fuselage Length 26.2 ft.
Wingspan 58.7 ft.
Wing Area 172 ft.
Aspect Ratio 20
Take-off Weight 1400 - 1825 lb
Payload 110 lb
Altitude Maximum altitude attained: 50,125 feet on 8/13/94
Mission Duration 6 hr
Structure Graphite epoxy, nomex honeycomb and kevlar aero surfaces, tubular steel frame fuselage
Engine Rotax 912 horizontally opposed four cylinder core modified to operate closed-cycle using liquid oxygen.
Engine Horsepower 80


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Page Last Updated: February 9th, 2014
Page Editor: Yvonne Gibbs