Scaled Composites Proteus

Cruising higher than supersonic transports can fly, the Proteus is a unique aircraft designed for high-altitude telecommunications or science missions of long duration. Created by Burt Rutan and built by Scaled Composites, it has an unconventional tandem-wing and twin-boom design with two rear-mounted turbofan engines.
Proteus has an all-composite airframe and its span can be increased to an impressive 92 feet by adding wingtip extensions. Normally flown by two pilots in a pressurized cabin, it can also fly semi-autonomously or be flown remotely from the ground. Rutan envisions the Proteus as a revolutionary high-altitude platform for telecommunications, reconnaissance, and commercial imaging – work now done by satellite. Other proposed roles include a space launch platform for unmanned missions. Proteus can perform multiple missions, carrying various payloads on a ventral pylon to altitudes above 60,000 feet, remaining on station for up to 14 hours.
Flight-testing began in July 1998 and it appeared at the 1999 Paris Air Show, having flown there non-stop from Maine, in the United States. The aircraft has been used for several significant research projects and missions, including a NASA programme to measure ocean characteristics and testing of the airborne laser system.
Now owned by Northrop Grumman, Proteus is being marketed as a research platform.

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