Home Uncategorized This solar plane aircraft will circumnavigate the globe: Solar Impulse 2

This solar plane aircraft will circumnavigate the globe: Solar Impulse 2

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Swiss pilots are about to embark on a 35,000-kilometre, five-month
journey around the world in their little, solar-powered plane.
Absolutely no fuel required.
This proof of concept voyage will begin and end in Abu Dhabi, being
split into 12 legs, each one spanning 25 flight days. Why is it going to
take so long? Well, the journey is by no means going to be very fun for
the pilots.They will end up spending around 250 hours in the cockpit,
the temperature of which will be anywhere from -40 to 40 degrees Celsius
at any given moment. 
Also there’s no heating or oxygen in the cock-pit,
the single seat doubles as the toilet and the bed, and they will have
to survive on 20-minute naps every two to four hours. So no wonder
they’re splitting this thing up into 25-day stints. 
The plane itself, called Solar Impulse 2, has a wingspan larger than a
Boeing 747, which is covered in more than 17,000 solar cells. These
provide its electric motors and 633 kg cache of four lithium batteries
with enough power to get it through the night, and any cloudy days that
might crop up, at a constant speed of around 140km/h. 
The plane has
already broken the record for being the first entirely solar plane to
fly between continents, and if it can make this journey to the end,
it’ll be the first solar-powered plane to circumnavigate the globe.

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Will
this change the way we fly in the near future? Not likely, unless
everyone suddenly decides that uncomfortable, super-slow air travel is
something they’d really enjoy – Karl Mathiesen at The Guardian compares the plane’s weight and speed to that of a Volvo sedan. But that’s not what this journey is all about, as Chris Mills explains over at Gizmodo:

“The
craft is unlikely to be breaking speed records any time soon, but to
the minds behind the project, Swiss aviators Bertrand Piccard and André
Borschberg, that’s not the point. For them it’s the energy efficiency of
the project that makes it exciting. They’re not so concerned with
changing the aviation industry just yet, so much as changing the public
perception about how exciting renewable energy can be. In other words,
this is as much publicity stunt as technological milestone.”

In
one sense, it’s a shame that people like Piccard and Borschberg have to
go to great – and extremely uncomfortable – lengths in order to
convince people of the incredible potential of renewable energy. All we
really need to do is look at Germany, which is already quietly
generating half its energy from solar power.
But every little bit helps, so best of luck to the pilots and the Solar
Impulse 2. 
Source: Gizmodo

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