Washington : In a first, NASA released its unmanned Ikhana aircraft into the commercial airspace under the debut mission without an accompanying chase plane.
The idea behind flying the scientific drone was to test out the possibilities of leveraging unmanned aircraft to monitor forest fires or conduct emergency search and rescue operations, Fast Company reported.
The Ikhana aircraft took flight from Edwards Air Force Base and reached 20,000 feet in class A airspace. It was also the first autonomous aircraft to use airborne detect-and-avoid technology.
The Ikhana is a canonical military drone that NASA acquired in 2006.