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Solar-Powered Airplane Completes First International Flight 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the icarus-airlines dept.
liqs8143 writes "Solar Impulse, a fully solar-powered airplane, has completed its first international solar-powered flight. After a flight lasting 12 hours 59 minutes at an altitude of 12,400 feet, using no fuel and propelled by solar energy alone, Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely in Brussels, Switzerland. After the landing, company co-founder Bertrand Piccard said, 'Our goal is to create a revolution in the minds of the people . . . to promote solar energies — not necessarily a revolution in aviation.' Compared with 2003, energy efficiency has increased from 16 to 22 percent. And the cells are now half as thick. The project has a total cost of $88 million, which is funded by mostly-Swiss partners and public donations."
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Solar-Powered Airplane Completes First International Flight

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    That would be _to_ Brussels, _from_ Switzerland, I'm guessing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 15, 2011 @09:24PM (#36136716)

    Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely in Brussels, Switzerland.
    Damn ... never knew Brussels was part of Switzerland ...O wait ... guess I should go hand in my Belgian passport and go request a Swiss one ....

    Awesome Geography ./ !

    • by theNAM666 (179776)
      Maar, ik wiet niet !
    • by jovius (974690)

      it's obviously a subtle freudian slip. The hardon collider is about in Geneva and Brussels has the chocolate.

    • by Andy_R (114137) on Monday May 16, 2011 @06:25AM (#36138666) Homepage Journal

      Brussels is in Switzerland, for very large values of Switzerland.

    • Washington D.C., Canada

      From a European POV.
    • by idontgno (624372)

      Yeah. The achievement became considerably less impressive when they relocated the source city to the destination country. They just flew the solar-powered airplane out of city limits.

      The real achievement wasn't the airplane. It was solving the cultural/political tension in Brussels by physically relocating it to a new country (nearly 700 km distant and 400 meters in elevation). (Yes, I'm American, but I figured I'd show a little respect to the continent involved and use metric distances.)

      Really, folks, cong

  • Is it just me, or is youtube not meeting demand on Sunday afternoons and evenings? Or is it comcast?
  • Beat them (Score:4, Insightful)

    by retroworks (652802) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:09PM (#36136924) Homepage Journal
    I didn't fly across the Atlantic, a savings of 100%
  • Not Impressed (Score:2, Informative)

    I'm not impressed. Solar planes have been in existence for a while. http://www.nasa.gov/vision/earth/technologies/solarFarm.html [nasa.gov] I really won't be impressed until it can carry cargo or passengers.
  • Brussels is in Belgium. Obviously the Article was submitted by an American. I assume this was a Switzerland to Brussels flight. A few hundred kilometers. More if I see flight details.
    • The article is posted on a non-American web site.

      It is quite amazing how the various Europeans who post on this site manage to embarrass themselves so frequently.

      • Your statement would be interessting, if it had anything to do with reality.

        Yes, the article was posted on a non-American website.
        But guess what: The article nowhere says that Brussels is in Switzerland.

        So this was added by the editor here at ./ or by the person submitting the story. Either of whom are most probably American.

        • Click on the author's name. You will find yourself on a Pakistani web site.

          There is no evidence that the author is American.

          Your turn Europe.

  • by theNAM666 (179776) on Sunday May 15, 2011 @10:39PM (#36137074)
    Actual flight path in title. Approx 660km @ 50km / hr, with cleared airspace due to special needs. See http://www.solarimpulse.com/blog/2011/05/13/all-lights-at-green/ [solarimpulse.com] Herzliche Glückwünsche to the team.
  • by Chrisje (471362) on Monday May 16, 2011 @01:22AM (#36137744)

    I am deeply sorry, but I have to agree with TheNAM666 here. This does look like a typical American write-up. Just like that time a security lady at an airport in the US was questioning me about why my Dutch passport was made in Switzerland. It got made at the consulate in Stockholm. Or that time when the Israeli border check said the same damn thing.

    I have found that both Americans and Israelis have displayed the most spectacular levels of ignorance about the world outside of their own country. More so than other travelers and people I've met in my life. That's not to say all Americans and Israelis are stupid, far from it. It's just that the ratio of numbnuts to decent conversationalists is significantly higher.

    Coolest example ever was when Dutch customs at Schiphol airport were looking for something because they were asking every passenger that passed through a certain spot where they just arrived from. They put the question in Dutch first. An American lady in front of me looked at the customs officer and in reply to his "Pardon Mevrouw, waar komt uw vlucht vandaan?" she barked an irritated "I don't speak German".

    He smiled, inclined his head and replied "That's alright, madam. Neither do I."

    • by theNAM666 (179776)

      I must apologize for the incident at the border crossing in Israel. Though most of the world seems unaware of it, our resources are very strained, and the education system is unfortunately rather poor in many areas. In contrast to the United States, I believe we are relatively aware of it, and would like to change it.

      If that happened at an airport security check, and was not a ploy used to test you, it should be a reason for dismissal of the security agent. Please post again if it did.

      The incident

      • by isorox (205688)

        I must apologize for the incident at the border crossing in Israel. Though most of the world seems unaware of it, our resources are very strained, and the education system is unfortunately rather poor in many areas. In contrast to the United States, I believe we are relatively aware of it, and would like to change it.

        If that happened at an airport security check, and was not a ploy used to test you, it should be a reason for dismissal of the security agent. Please post again if it did.

        Really? I think it's a genuine question. Most passports are issues in the home country, so it's worth a follow up question. My last trip through TLV had an hour-long interrogation, involving me getting emails out and even running up eclipse. They seemed shocked that I'd been to Greece as well, an unusual location for us brits to go.

        I'm dreading my next trip through TLV, as I'll have been to Gaza, which is bound to bring up questions.

        • by Chrisje (471362)

          In Holland you can get a second "clean" passport. All I needed to obtain one is a statement from my employer that I need to visit "conflicting countries" professionally.

          That way, you can have all the Israeli stamps (and US, whatnot) in one passport, while you have a second passport that needs replacing every two years for the Arabic nations, Russia and all of those.

          That shaves a lot off of the interrogations, so if you are eligible for a similar thing in the United Kingdom I would wholeheartedly recommend y

      • by Chrisje (471362)

        Oh, you want to apologize for incidents at Israel's borders? In that case you can keep 'm coming, buddy!

        I lived in Israel for three years. And as a very frequent traveler for both business and for the purpose of visiting my family in the Netherlands, I have to say it was a good lesson in racism. I have never had to deal with a more rude and racist set of security people in my life. I have found the border people more courteous in any country I've been to, including Bahrain, Dubai, South Africa, the US and p

        • by theNAM666 (179776)

          Given your clarification, it sounds like the security personnel did what they were trained to do, which is use whatever means necessary to assess whether you are who you say you are, or if you are intent on killing someone or the like.

          All it takes is one dying body in front of you, when it could have been prevented, to drive this point home in a concrete manner. Trust me.

          Since I am not orthodox by far, the El Al and Tel Aviv security folks will usually give me a good and thorough questioning, right

    • While I mostly agree with your post, I'd like to say that Dutch and German are pretty similar. It might hurt your pride, but they're basically the same language with a slightly different grammar and pronunciation.

      I can speak 5 languages, but I'm really not sure I could tell the difference between Swedish and Danish, or even Japanase/Korean/Chinese, especially if you take different accents and pronunciations into account.

      If you think I'm a numbnut, well, you know where you can shove your West Germanic langua

      • by dutchd00d (823703)

        I can speak 5 languages, but I'm really not sure I could tell the difference between Swedish and Danish

        I speak maybe 2.5 languages, and I am sure: I certainly couldn't tell the difference. But if someone at a Danish airport addresses me in a scandinavian-sounding language I'm not going to assume it's Swedish. Which is the equivalent of what happened here.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        This was about a question asked by a Dutch customs official when arriving in The Netherlands.

        Common sense dictates that this person would be asking the question in Dutch, not German. And apparently repeated in English afterwards.

      • by jonescb (1888008)

        The Dutch language is indeed similar to German, but it's also similar to English. To me it looks like a cross between the two. I'm not a linguist however.

        • by Chrisje (471362)

          Well, the history of English is such that local tribesmen got their arses invaded by Romans, Scandinavians and Germanic folk, so English is actually a cross breed of the Roman, Germanic and Nordic languages with some Gaelic thrown in for good measure.

          Sort of.

          Not that Dutch is "pure" because there's plenty of Roman/Hellenistic influences, as well as Arabic. Our hard "G" sound comes from the Spanish (think José). The Spanish got that "G" from the Moors who ruled the peninsula for close to 700 years. So t

      • by theNAM666 (179776)

        BlackPig opineth:

        >While I mostly agree with your post, I'd like to say that Dutch and German are pretty similar.
        >It might hurt your pride, but they're basically the same language with a slightly different grammar and pronunciation.

        So are English, Welsh, Dutch, and Danish. They're all Western Germanics. Virtually indistinguishable.

      • by Chrisje (471362)

        Well, I happen to speak Swedish, German, Dutch, English, Norwegian and a bit of French. You are right in that anyone with a Nordic/Germanic background has a relatively easy time picking up the rest of 'm, and French being a Roman language has always posed me with a bigger challenge.

        Having said that, Danish is just too weird. In writing it looks just like Norwegian, but when these people open their mouths the sounds that emanate from them are just indescribably odd and at odds with the written form.

        The Norwe

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I have found that both Americans and Israelis have displayed the most spectacular levels of ignorance about the world outside of their own country. More so than other travelers and people I've met in my life. That's not to say all Americans and Israelis are stupid, far from it. It's just that the ratio of numbnuts to decent conversationalists is significantly higher.

      I'd blame the evening news more than anything. Human interest stories like firemen getting a cat out of the tree appear often, and we're talki

    • by jittles (1613415)

      I wish the general consensus here in the US were to be more interested and respectful of our foreign friends (and enemies for that matter). There are those of us who know that Stockholm is actually in Sweden, and that they speak Dutch in the Netherlands. It saddens me because I know people here in the US who think that any language other than English is just a waste of time, and effort. I have actually been chastised by a woman for being fond of Spanish, and languages in general. Not everyone here is so

  • Aircraft require more high density energy than any other thing humans do (besides spacecraft). Getting off the ground with any significant amount of cargo and traveling at a useful speed of several hundred knots requires many gigajoules of energy. Only fossil fuels have that kind of energy density and power output : even nuclear is too darn heavy compared to jet fuel.

    In the long run, eventually we'll run out of recoverable fossil fuel. There'll still be plenty of it in the ground, but the energy cost to

  • ...it took of in Helsinki, Sweden.
  • The video is a fake. No way is Switzerland that flat.

  • Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely in Brussels, Switzerland

    Switzerland is not a member of the EU so it does not make sense to move the de-facto capitol of said union there. Why not just keep it to Brussels, Belgium instead?

  • Last time I checked Brussels was in Belgium.
  • In 13 hours they only went 660 km? Thats not likely to be a practical alternative to jet powered planes. And its not like they can keep going much longer than that, solar power is not so good at night.

  • My main issue with Solar Impulse is that it is not a solar powered aircraft but a sailplane with a solar powered assist. It uses stored electricity to get to altitude then uses standard sailplane techniques to get where it is going. You may call thermals and ridge lift (lift crated by wind being pushed up hill) solar power but it has nothing to do with solar panels. They probably use electricity to move from one area of lift to another but it is not the main source of energy. Considering that the sailplane

  • Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely in Brussels, Switzerland.

    I've always knew there was something cheesy about Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde!
    I'm going to get my Swiss-Belgian passport right now!

  • I thought the Swiss were always neutral, when did they invade Belgium?

    While everyone is focused on the middle east, the Swiss are taking over Europe!

  • IAAP but IANAAE (I Am a Pilot but I Am Not an Aeronautical Engineer)

    Other than a 'hey, that's cool' factor, I don't get what the big deal here is. There's not a lot of information in the article or the video, but the suggestion is that this is some kind of breakthrough in powered flight.

    A little bit of background: Even a small, single-engine airplane will burn 6-8 gallons of aviation gas per hour, and AVGAS is about $6/gallon (in the US - probably even more in Europe), and this is one of several reasons why

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