Aurora Flight Sciences announced an award to construct major components of the Boeing Solar Eagle, a 400ft (122m) wingspan solar-powered demonstration project funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Aurora will build ribs and skins for the aircraft's wing, which will support solar cells. Aurora was previously a competitor under the Vulture programme, having won an award to build its own aircraft, a unique Z-wing entry dubbed Odysseus.
"Aurora will have to push the limits of materials and the imagination to create answers to the demanding requirements of this very large yet gossamer aircraft," said Tom Clancy, Aurora's Vice President and Chief Technology Officer. "We are delighted to have been chosen for such an important role. Boeing recognized the value that Aurora brings to the program through our combination of experience in rapid prototyping and our expertise in composite structures."
SolarEagle is a subscale demonstrator, designed to stay airborne for 30 days at high altitude. The full-scale aircraft, with a 400ft wingspan, is designed to stay aloft for up to five years, allowing long-term surveillance of a nature previously reserved for satellites.
Aurora has a carved an industry niche in building high-altitude and long-endurance aircraft. Previous projects include the Orion and Theseus series.