The first flight of a solar-powered aircraft took place in 1974 with the Sunrise II, which was remotely controlled. After this, the Gossamer Penguin was developed under the pretext of a NASA research program, and it was the aircraft with which the first piloted flight of a fully solar-powered aircraft took place, which occurred in August of 1980.
Then, an aircraft called the Pathfinder was developed in 1993/1994 by NASA for the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) program. It ran on a combination of battery and solar power. Subsequent modifications to the aircraft increased its reliance on solar power, but the most recent modification to the aircraft only converts about 19 percent of the solar energy received into useful electricity for the aircraft’s motors.
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