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Transportation Power

Solar Impulse 2 Plane Takes Off From Egypt On Final Leg Of World Tour ( 44

How long would it take an airplane to fly around the world without using any fuel? About 22 days of actual air time, according to Fusion. Solar Impulse 2, an aircraft which is powered by solar energy, left Egypt on Sunday on the last leg of the first ever-fuel free flight around the world. The team behind it tweeted a few minutes ago that they have completed 91% of the final, last, conclusive flight. Reuters reports: Solar Impulse 2, a spindly single-seat plane, took off from Cairo in darkness en route to Abu Dhabi, its final destination, with a flight expected to take between 48 and 72 hours. The plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies. "The round the world flight ends in Abu Dhabi, but not the project," Piccard told Reuters a few days before takeoff. Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings. It relies on solar energy collected during the day and stored in batteries for electrical energy to fly at night. The carbon fiber plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car can climb to about 8,500 meters (28,000 feet) and cruise at 55-100 kph (34-62 mph).
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Solar Impulse 2 Plane Takes Off From Egypt On Final Leg Of World Tour

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  • 22 Days? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Starting in March of 2015 to now isn't 22 days. It may have only been in the air for 22 days, but the trip sounds like it took about 1 and a third years.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Your advertising career is now over...

    • 22 days? My ass. It has been on the ground longer than in the air, which is probably some sort of record itself. And this is hardly news worthy except for the fact that it proved only one thing, that solar airplanes are highly impractical. No, it didn't prove that it could be done. Moving a mountain one grain of sand at at time isn't really proving you can move a mountain.

      • by PCM2 ( 4486 )

        Moving a mountain one grain of sand at at time isn't really proving you can move a mountain.

        It isn't? I mean ... that wouldn't impress you? WTF would?

      • Re:22 Days? (Score:5, Informative)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Monday July 25, 2016 @02:31PM (#52576919)

        Like a lot of people you miss the point. Sometimes the invention isn't meant to be mass produced but more of a proof that it can be done. Having it travel the world was a publicity stunt. But it was a stunt to show the advancements in solar energy. Not to spur a world of solar heavier than air aircraft. However the real progress is in using technology to build an aircraft light enough, and with enough power generation to support a long term flight.

        Now if we take the stuff that we learned, use these solar panels on our homes, use the construction to make more fuel efficient planes. Even just keep the knowledge around until solar panels get more efficient or batteries get lighter to make such a device more useful.
        However to pull such a stunt safely shows progress.

        • How much time would it take to "prove" it could be done? 365 years? Fly 100 Meters, land, charge for a month, do it again. That doesn't prove ANYTHING, except patience. It wasn't hard to fly 22 days, if they flew 22 days in a month, I would suggest that would be something. Flying 22 days in 44 days would be important. Flying 22 days in 90 days, 180, or even 270 days would be significant, but they have taken well over 1 year to complete the task, flying only 22 days out of that period. Meaning, they took ove

        • Unless they were covering up the solar panels while on the ground, and only using them to charge batteries while in the air, there is no point.

          Technically all energy sources except geothermal are solar. Fossil fuels are solar energy collected by plants millions of years ago. Wood is solar energy collected by plants in the last few decades. Nuclear is energy from stars which went supernova to create the elements heavier than iron that we use for fission. Wind is the air's movement in reaction to diffe
    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Yeah, the way most of these flights go, they end up on the ground longer for getting permissions to fly through airspace, fixing the plane, trying to get more money, and for other random stuff than they actually spend flying.

      While you don't need fuel, there's no way you can guarantee that a plane that slow, fragile, and with limited cargo space can remain aloft for long periods of time with human passengers. There is a lot of groundwork, so to speak, to keeping a flight going.

      What would be really impressiv

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday July 25, 2016 @02:18PM (#52576843) Homepage Journal
    No fuel? How does it fly with no fuel??? Magic rays?
  • Is there any reason that this plane couldn't have flown into the southern hemisphere for part of its flight? It's not like we don't have sunlight down south.

    • by XXongo ( 3986865 )

      Is there any reason that this plane couldn't have flown into the southern hemisphere for part of its flight? It's not like we don't have sunlight down south.

      Hm-- if it never crossed south of the equator, it didn't really fly around the world, since it flew a route considerably shorter than a great circle.

      I mean, if you go to Antarctica and walk in a circle of radius one meter around the south pole, you didn't really circumnavigate the globe on foot.

    • M8 if it flew down under the equator the solar collectors would be on the wrong side of the wings ;)

      • That is actually not as "un funny" as it seems.

        When the F16 was in the conception phase, they had the idea to disallow certain flight maneuvers. E.g. flying on the back etc. So they had a strict computer trying to interpret the pilots steering commands and keeping the plane in the air and follow that command as close as "reasonable".

        Unfortunately they had sign error when calculating the normal vector of the planes orientation on the southern hemisphere.

        Result: if you cross the equator the plane thinks you a

  • This family has a long history of aviation firsts, and I assume the pilot here is a grandson of this guy: [] And yes, that's the same sirname which inspired Gene Roddenberry to create Jean-Luc.
  • I mean, wind-powered ships have been doing this for over half a millennium now. Clearly solar has a lot of catching up to do.

    And how many continents were discovered using solar power so far? I tell you, wind is where it's at!

    • Perhaps you should a few "half a milleniums"?

      Sailing rafts we know since about 4500 before christ. Boats minimum 3500 BC, likely even older.

      Sailing over the Oceans, e.g. Atlantic did Eric the Red around 1000. The Polynesians settled the Pacific since 4000 BC ... with sailing boats and rowing canoes.

  • The Graf Zeppelin flew around the world in 4 hops in 1929, racking up a total flying time of 12d12h13m and a total elapsed start-to-finish time of 21d5h31m. The longest leg was Friedrichshafen, Germany to Kasumigaura, Japan; 11,743 km in 101h49m. The Pacific leg was 9634 km in 79h54m.

    This was less than a year after completing the zeppelin, which was the first intercontinental commercial airship in the world. There were no breakdowns during the entire operation, and no unexpected stops or layovers. There was

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