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Communications Transportation Technology

Solar-Powered Flight Grounded By Equipment Bug 28

Posted by timothy
from the for-want-of-a-nail dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "If your plane is powered by the sun, it's tough to fly if your crew is in the dark. A 24-hour test flight for the world's first solar-powered round-the-world flight had to be postponed Thursday due to an equipment problem that would have left mission control out of touch with the technology on the experimental aircraft. When they're able to make this test flight, they hope by flying all day they'll be able to fully charge the batteries, then use the stored energy to power the plane all night."
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Solar-Powered Flight Grounded By Equipment Bug

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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday July 01, 2010 @05:41PM (#32764476)

    People think solar power is renewable. What are they going to do when the Sun burns out, huh? HUH?

  • As long as their transponder is working ATC should be able to steer aircrafts away from them. As long as the weather is clear it shouldn't be a problem to fly around in giant circles.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      <sigh />
      It's telemetry gear that's at issue. The problem is less telling the pilot not to run into the path of that jet (this still works, since their radio is fine), and more telling him that the lithium-ion battery in the left wing is now shorted and about to ignite (which they won't know until it ignites). Not that it matters much, but I guess he'd rather know how he's about to die than not....

  • by SnarfQuest (469614)

    Developers logbook...

    Note: Solar cells do not work at night. Maybe add lunar cells?

    • by Cwix (1671282)

      they hope by flying all day they'll be able to fully charge the batteries, then use the stored energy to power the plane all night.

      From the summary of all places.

    • Star Light Star bright,

      The first star I see tonight,

      I wish I may, I wish I might,

      Oh, shit, no flight at night!

    • it wasn't in the linked article, but in addition to the batteries storing energy for night flight, the craft will use elevation to store energy. it will operate partially as a glider at night and climb back up during the day. the reduces the number and/or size of batteries that would be required relative to what would be required to maintain level flight at night.

  • It would make sense for something as small as a cell phone but as critical to the mission as this is to have it be redundant in the plane or a spare in the hanger. Come on guys! You've obviously spent enough money on this to know what steps to take to mitigate this.
  • "they hope by flying all day they'll be able to fully charge the batteries, then use the stored energy to power the plane all night."

    I must be misunderstanding something... it says it's an around-the-world flight that would last 24 hours... if that's the case, why couldn't they follow the daylight? (of course I highly doubt this plane actually goes fast enough to do what I'm understanding from the article, but they do in fact say it... are they flying around the world closer to one of the poles?)

    • Ok, nevermind me... this was a test/preparation flight before the actual around the world flight, which would certainly take much longer than 24 hours.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by demonbug (309515)

        Ok, nevermind me... this was a test/preparation flight before the actual around the world flight, which would certainly take much longer than 24 hours.

        Yeah, I'm guessing there aren't too many solar-powered aircraft around that can manage 1,000 miles per hour (well, maybe in a vacuum... straight down).

    • I must be misunderstanding something... it says it's an around-the-world flight that would last 24 hours...

      You are misunderstanding something--big time.

      Consider: the circumference of the earth at the equator is about 24,900 miles; divide that by 24 hours and you get about 1,037 MPH. Not bad for a solar powered plane, eh?

      • by Threni (635302)

        But they're using perpetual motion, minus the water. They'll be there on time to collect their nobel prize, and they'll get there before they left. Or something.

      • If you look more carefully, I did in fact mention how outrageous it sounded. I also mentioned a possible scenario where it would be possible. But you're right about me misunderstanding *something*, I didn't initially see that this was just a test flight.

      • Careful analysis seems to indicate that they are in fact, in Switzerland, which is somewhat closer to the north pole, than the equator.

  • From TFA:

    "If it doesn't work, the mission control is blind," said Piccard.

    If captain of the Enterprise advises against it, it's a good call to postpone the flight. (Also, people, learn to spell "Picard.")

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