Gallery: Solar airplane takes off

Gallery: Solar airplane takes off

Summary: Solar Impulse successfully completed a big step towards its goal of making the first solar-powered aircraft to circle the globe.

TOPICS: Telcos

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  • Solar Impulse successfully completed a big step towards its goal of making the first solar-powered aircraft to circle the globe while burning no fuel and creating no pollution.

    The Solar Impulse-HB-SIA leaves the ground off the Payerne airfield in Switzerland.

    Credit: Solar Impulse

  • The crowd watches the HB-SIA as it prepared for takeoff.

    Credit: Solar Impulse

  • The HB-SIA got a running escort as it taxied down the runway.

    Credit: Solar Impulse

Topic: Telcos

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  • Not very green

    That's a lot of material to move one person
    through the air. The Airbus pictured in the scale
    drawing can carry 200+ people plus cargo. Try to
    imagine all the extra air traffic just to replace
    one airlines fleet with these things. I'm not
    saying low/zero emissions is bad, but this flight
    seems to be more stunt than anything.
    • then you missed the point

      this one is not intended as a commercial carrier. it is intended as a proof of concept.

      nothing ever starts with the commercial product. you have to start first with it being possible at all.

      this technology, combined with another design i saw that was also zero emmissions, could be combined to make a commercially viable carrier craft. this one's drawback is its size/vs carrying capacity. the other one was that it could not fly a smooth course, it had to continually go up and down sharply using extreme buoyancy variations to generate its flight control power. this technology could lend the addition power needed to smooth out the climbs and dives the other needed.

      the journey of 10,000 steps starts with a single step, and while this is certainly not step 10,000, it might be step 100...
    • I agree

      This is more of a stunt than a scientific experiment. Anybody can make a motor that spins a propeller using solar panels for power. Make a jet engine using solar power. Now that's science.
      • That's more a high bypass engine

        where a good portion of the thrust is not thru the actual jet engine itself, instead thru the outer fan and casing:

        They have them for model jets, but I don't think we're that close in terms of a full scale type engine that can move a plane this size.

        But this is a concept plane, more of a learning tool then anything else.
        John Zern
      • Wow, you guys missed the point, and the technological advances...

        Sure anyone can spin a propeller using solar panels; but NOT everyone can make a plane that can fly only on solar power, much less FLY AROUND THE WORLD. THEN, have the flight dynamics and efficiency to stay aloft throughout the NIGHT. It's not a jet, so it flies rather slowly. Thus, it could take up to 20 days to fly around the world. They plan to change pilots every 3-4 days, so it has to fly throughut the night. Yes, it has to stay in the air, with NO sunlight, the whole night. So it has to fly up to 39,000 ft high (7.3 miles high), to coast slowly downward throughout the night.
        And... they're not able to do it yet. Maybe a couple more years.

        So if you think it's so easy, be my guest, whip a solar plane together, and off into the blue yonder.
        • :) someone else gets it too! :)

          could i "whip up" a solar powered plane? yes.

          could i make a solar powered plane that will circle the globe? no.

          do i care that someone is trying? YES!

          why? because, as has been said a few times now, while this isn't the final step, this is an early step, and without the early steps, the later steps will never be reached.

          and yes, nearly anyone can build a solar plane that will fly while the sun shines, but as el1jones pointed out, this one has to fly through the night too, when its primary power source is missing. and while gliding in a slow descent can conserve power during the night, all of the craft's instrumentation still needs to operate, so not only do the flight dynamics have to be extremely efficient, it still has to store power and use that power efficiently in its onboard instrumentation through the night.

          power storage has its own weight which also has to be part of the equation. how many batteries do you put in? what kind? every microgram makes a difference.
  • RE: (Gallery: Solar airplane takes off )

    As well you could have said about the Wright brothers' first flight at Kittyhawk. We have to start somewhere.
  • Plane looks more powerful

    How many kilowatts? how fast can it go??
  • RE: (Gallery: Solar airplane takes off )

    Next solar plane may have a solar trough to make steam and turn a steam turbine! Powerful! A plane can deliver 30-50 kilowatts easily!
  • Necessary for expensive fuel

    When oil reserve depletion drives fuel costs through the roof, we'll be glad folks like these are working on alternatives. Of course we don't know what alternatives will finally prevail, but one step at a time. It's incredible work by this team to create this aircraft.