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Solar powered plane ready to cross the USA

usa swiss company night flights photovoltaic cells 40 miles per hour

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#1 Hum

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 13:14

A solar-powered plane that can fly at night is gearing up to be the first airplane of its kind to fly across the United States.

The Solar Impulse has spent the past few weeks around San Francisco, California, taking practice runs before its cross-country tour.

“That’s a mythical step in aviation,” Andre Borschberg, one of the plane’s pilots and creators, said about flying cross-country. He compared the Solar Impulse team to early-20th-century aviators who tried to fly coast to coast in propeller planes.

He said a solar-powered trip around the world could happen in two years.

The Solar Impulse is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells. They cover the plane’s massive wings and charge its batteries, allowing it to fly day and night without fuel. It has the wingspan of a large passenger airplane but the weight of the average family car, a combination that makes it vulnerable to bad weather.

Its creators say the Solar Impulse is designed to showcase the potential of solar power and will never replace fuel-powered commercial flights. The delicate, single-seat plane cruises at around 40 miles per hour —a lot slower than ordinary planes — and it can’t fly through clouds.

Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse’s co-founder and chairman, had predicted that the plane would be ready for the cross-country journey this week, depending on the weather. “We like nice weather,” Borschberg said. “We like sunny days,”

Friday is now the first possible day for takeoff, a Solar Impulse spokeswoman said Monday.

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#2 spacer

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 13:21

If the plane can fly at night, why can't it fly through clouds? It certainly can't be a darkness issue. If it's a condensation issue, does that mean the plane can't fly when it's raining? I know they said the plane doesn't handle bad weather well, but I thought that was a product of it's light weight vs high-winds, not water.

#3 geertd

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 14:26

as i live nearby brussels airport
i drove over to watch this beauty land
http://www.solarimpulse.com/

happened on 13 may 2011

Posted Image


After 12 hours 59 minutes of flight and 480 kilometres as the ‘solar bird' flies, HB-SIA landed smoothly at Zaventem airport at 21:39 LT, where it received a triumphal welcome from a crowd of fans and followers and a large media contingent.

#4 DocM

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Posted 01 May 2013 - 15:28

If the plane can fly at night, why can't it fly through clouds? It certainly can't be a darkness issue.
>


It is a darkness issue. The output of the solar cells in full light is just enough to keep it in the air and charge the batteries for the low-light/darkness leg plus a few hours equivalent of safety margin. Clouds tip the charge balance, but the next version will fix that; more powerful solar array, much larger batteries plus structural improvements. Thos changes will give it a >5 day duration.

#5 Growled

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 02:07

The Solar Impulse is powered by about 12,000 photovoltaic cells.


That's a lot of batteries.

#6 DocM

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 02:40

PV cells = basic solar panel units, not batteries.

#7 Growled

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 02:12

I was trying to make a funny. Apparently I failed miserably. :D

#8 geertd

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 14:15

they are live
http://live.solarimpulse.com/#

#9 OP Hum

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 15:11

I don't think solar planes will get very far -- not a long future for them.

#10 geertd

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 15:33

it s all about development of renewable energies
they know that a solar powered plane carrying 300 + passengers is not in the works

http://www.solarimpu...-of-the-future/

We are dealing here with a symbol, as solar airplanes are unlikely ever to carry 300 passengers, but it is a symbol that affects all of us.

#11 DocM

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 19:17

Solar electric in planes are more likely to be used in conjunction with "electric jets;" high bypass ducted fans run by superconducting electric motors. Power would come from a compact superconducting dynamo running on LH2 or methane and buffered by batteries that could be partially charged by the solar panels.

One more item known to be on Elon Musk's to-do list.



#12 Crisp

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 19:22

Someone needs to come up with a vacuum engine. Water boils in a vacuum, just use the steam power.

#13 geertd

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Posted 21 May 2013 - 22:38

from http://www.solarimpulse.com/



The flight from Phoenix to Dallas has been confirmed! Solar Impulse, piloted by André Borschberg, will take off for Dallas (TX) tomorrow, Wednesday May 22nd at 4:45AM MST (UTC-7) from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Landing is scheduled at 01:00AM CDT (UTC-5) at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. Bertrand Piccard will complete the third leg of the Across America flight, connecting Dallas (TX) to St. Louis (MI).



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