Aurora Flight Sciences Breaks Ground on Mississippi Manufacturing Facility

Company Unveils Design of Innovative Hydrogen-Powered Unmanned Aircraft

COLUMBUS, Miss., July 6 // -- Aurora Flight Sciences today unveiled the design of Orion HALL, an unmanned aircraft designed to carry small payloads for ultra-long endurance surveillance missions, during the groundbreaking for the Columbus, Miss. facility that will build the aircraft. Orion HALL will have endurance approaching four days at altitudes up to 65,000 feet. It is designed to be rugged enough to perform surveillance missions for the military and intelligence communities while remaining affordable for civilian agencies such as NOAA and NASA. Orion HALL will make its first flight in 2008.

"Whether the mission is defense or science oriented, the watch word today is persistent surveillance," said Aurora Flight Sciences President John S. Langford. "The combination of Orion HALL's hydrogen propulsion system with a design that optimizes aircraft endurance will enable the Orion HALL to loiter over an area of interest for days on end."

To launch initial Orion HALL production, Aurora will double its Mississippi employment over the course of the next year and build a 20,000 square foot manufacturing facility at Columbus' Golden Triangle Regional Airport. As Aurora solidifies orders for the aircraft, the company plans to add an additional 60,000 square feet to the facility. In the next three years, staffing levels at the Columbus facility will increase to at least 300 employees.

Mississippi State University will own and operate the first Orion HALL through its Raspet Flight Research Laboratory in Starkville, Miss. The university will utilize the aircraft for science missions for numerous government agencies.

"Orion HALL will give Mississippi State a research tool virtually unmatched by any other university," said MSU President Robert "Doc" Foglesong. "Just one example of the benefits it will offer is the ability to track tropical storms in the Atlantic, collecting and analyzing high quality data that can help predict a hurricane's path."

"Orion HALL will be in a class by itself," said Aurora Vice President for Science Applications John Appleby. "Because it is a small payload, high- altitude UAV, it will complement, rather than compete with, existing large- payload UAVs."

About Aurora Flight Sciences

Aurora Flight Sciences is a leader in unmanned aerial vehicle technology for research, defense and homeland security organizations. For more than 17 years, Aurora Flight Sciences has expanded the limits of unmanned flight through the design and manufacture of innovative aircraft. Aurora specializes in the manufacture of composite and metal aerostructures for manned and unmanned aircraft. Learn more about Aurora Flight Sciences by visiting the company's website at

Source: Aurora Flight Sciences

CONTACT: Chuck Wilkins, Manager, Public Affairs of Aurora Flight
Sciences, +1-703-396-6304, mobile: +1-703-380-5373,

Web site:

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