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Transportation

Solar Impulse 2 Makes First Flight 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the walking-on-air dept.
schwit1 writes: "The solar-powered experimental airplane Solar Impulse 2 made its maiden flight on Monday. 'The solar-powered aircraft took off at 5:36 AM CET, when the weather around the aerodrome was at its calmest, with pilot Markus Scherdel at the controls. The aircraft flew for two hours and 17 minutes, reaching an altitude of 1,670 m (5,500 ft) and a ground speed of 55.6 km/h (30 kt). According to Solar Impulse, the in-flight data indicates that the aircraft slated to make the first all-solar global circumnavigation flight performed to expectations.' The goal is to use this plane to fly around the world in 2015. Videos of the takeoff and landing are available, as are a series of pictures. The plane gets off the ground very quickly, does not move very fast, and is balanced precariously on a single set of wheels in the center. If you look closely before takeoff, there are two guys literally holding the wings up at each end to balance it. They have to run with the plane for the first few seconds until it gets enough lift to balance on its own. The landing video shows both bicyclists and men racing to meet up with the wings to hold them up once the plane stops."
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Solar Impulse 2 Makes First Flight

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  • If it can fly forever?

  • Bravo! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hussman32 (751772) on Tuesday June 03, 2014 @06:32PM (#47160769)
    There will be a million negative posts (maybe not here) about practicality, weight, viability in weather etc., but they have a plane that flies using solar power, which is a much better performance than all of the naysayers expected from them before yesterday.

    Good for them, I'm impressed.
    • by hurfy (735314)

      I was wondering if it automatically stops the props horizontal, that seemed kinda cool. Impressive demo alright even if it is rather useless. Replace a blimp for promos perhaps?

      Around the world a couple hours at a time when the weather is right? Looks like it would take forever. One bad headwind and you're going backward, moderate tailwind and you stop flying?!?

      As a bonus it can be used as a kite when there is a breeze :O

      • by Deadstick (535032)

        moderate tailwind and you stop flying?!?

        No. Moderate tailwind and you cover ground moderately faster. You can look these things up.

        • by wagnerrp (1305589)
          A gusty tailwind in an aircraft that will only manage 30 knots can very easily cause you to stall and crash.
          • Windmills do not work that way. Good night.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Gusty wind only exists in ground level. Earth caused turbulences in wind stop almost completely between 100 and 200 m from ground.

            BR,
            Anonymous glider pilot

          • by Deadstick (535032)

            Gust responses are very benign in an airplane with such a low wing loading. It would take an extremely sharp-edged gust to achieve an actual airspeed reduction that big...basically it reacts like a leaf instead of like an airliner.

    • by aliquis (678370)

      Not saying it's worse but I wonder how much extra energy is used to make one of these vs a regular plane.

    • by wagnerrp (1305589)

      So they made it work. Who cares? No one with a firm grasp of aerodynamics and engineering said it couldn't be done. They only said there was no point for it to be done. It's like the person who climbs Mount Everest without oxygen. They're going where many have gone before, but crippling themselves for the XP bonus. It is of no benefit to society, so there's no reason society should give it so much publicity.

  • It flies better than the original, and it seems to be affected by wind as much as the original. And...the original gave us the SR 71 60 years later. I hope this means a first step toward eliminating con trails and other blights in otherwise beautiful blue skies.
    • by fyngyrz (762201)

      eliminating con trails and other blights

      Yes. YES! Areas of moderately condensed moisture are SO irritating to look at. Why, just this morning I was looking eastward and cursing the clouds for reflecting the golden red hues of the sunrise and causing these super ugly RAYS of light to spread outward towards me. RAYS!!! Filthy, FILTHY water. Did you know you can DROWN in it? And... and... (whispers: fish fuck in it!)

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by wagnerrp (1305589)
      One would expect any commenter on slashdot to have at least the most basic grasp of physics necessary to realize that a solar powered aircraft will never have any utility beyond low speed loiter, and will never replace all those terrible contrail-producing jets. One might think too highly of the common slashdotter...
  • I wanted to hear what the thing sounded like.

    • by Cochonou (576531)
      I have seen the first prototype flying at Le Bourget in 2011. It makes almost no sound.
  • If you look closely before takeoff, there are two guys literally holding the wings up at each end to balance it. They have to run with the plane for the first few seconds until it gets enough lift to balance on its own. The landing video shows both bicyclists and men racing to meet up with the wings to hold them up once the plane stops.

    This delicate and accurate work cries out for a couple of drones, not dudes, huffing and akimbo.

  • I hope they take off in Jan. - at 30 kts the trip may take the whole year!

  • What's with the overdone HDR pictures? Looks like MS Flight Sim.

  • If they want to fly around the world with it, wont they need to keep up with the sun, as that's it power source? If so, it'll need to go a lot faster than 30kt..

    (Disclaimer - In /. fashion, I only read the summary, so if the article explains it, then I apologise.)

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist

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