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Solar Impulse 2 Makes First Flight

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the walking-on-air dept.

Transportation 34

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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Why does it need to land anyway (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 6 months ago | (#47160641)

If it can fly forever?

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47160719)

Pilot needs to land. The plane doesn't have a toilet.

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#47160739)

Why does it need a pilot?

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (2)

dpidcoe (2606549) | about 6 months ago | (#47160945)

Because no one cares if a computer flies around the world. They need to see a human put their life in danger for it to be interesting.

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47160969)

Because no one cares if a computer flies around the world.

Such Specism!

Some of us do care, and we welcome our future world-encircling overloards.

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 6 months ago | (#47161139)

Why does it need a pilot?

...and that's the most likely use case -- solar powered (albeit slow moving) drones that can stay up for long periods of time, providing the weather isn't too rambunctious.

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#47161277)

providing the weather isn't too rambunctious.

They can solve that problem by just flying higher.

Re:Why does it need to land anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47162659)

The plane doesn't have a toilet.

I am sure that is not an issue. Bombs away!

Bravo! (5, Insightful)

Hussman32 (751772) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Bravo! (0)

hurfy (735314) | about 6 months ago | (#47160923)

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

Re:Bravo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47161343)

I agree, I would have expected it to leave the props flat out against the airflow, because these guys are just airplane engineers whereas I am a Slashdot commenter

Re:Bravo! (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 6 months ago | (#47161563)

moderate tailwind and you stop flying?!?

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

Re:Bravo! (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 6 months ago | (#47162149)

A gusty tailwind in an aircraft that will only manage 30 knots can very easily cause you to stall and crash.

Re:Bravo! (1)

germansausage (682057) | about 6 months ago | (#47162211)

Windmills do not work that way. Good night.

Re:Bravo! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47162421)

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

Re:Bravo! (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 6 months ago | (#47163773)

Yes, and airliners never suffer turbulence.

Re:Bravo! (1)

Deadstick (535032) | about 6 months ago | (#47165567)

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.

Re:Bravo! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47161611)

Yes, a head wind can make you fly backward ... with relation to the ground
windSpeed - airSpeed = groundSpeed

A tail wind doesn't stop you flying ... = only the opposite
windSpeed + airSpeed = groundSpeed

Re:Bravo! (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 6 months ago | (#47161387)

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

Re:Bravo! (0)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 6 months ago | (#47161403)

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's going to crash on the global flight (1)

KrazyDave (2559307) | about 6 months ago | (#47160811)

Very nice, but I doubt it will make it around the globe. Probably will be shot down depending on which 3rd-worlders it flies over.

Trollers gonna troll (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47161379)

"55.6 km/h (30 kt)"

can someone tell me what this is in mph? I'm American and not a sailor so I have no idea how fast that is. Googling it would detract from the usual posts of all the Euros bitching about not including metric units.

Re:Trollers gonna troll (1)

deadweight (681827) | about 6 months ago | (#47161435)

30 knots is about 34 MPH.

It is the next Wright Flyer (1)

RussellTheMuscle (2783037) | about 6 months ago | (#47161467)

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.

H2O (0)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 6 months ago | (#47161705)

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:It is the next Wright Flyer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47162129)

Ha ha, now the Captain Planet solar-powered jet aircraft doesn't seem so unlikely!

Re:It is the next Wright Flyer (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 6 months ago | (#47162141)

Yes. Yes it does...

Re:It is the next Wright Flyer (1, Insightful)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about 6 months ago | (#47162137)

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...

Goddamn helicopter making all that racket (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#47161825)

I wanted to hear what the thing sounded like.

Re:Goddamn helicopter making all that racket (1)

Cochonou (576531) | about 6 months ago | (#47162143)

I have seen the first prototype flying at Le Bourget in 2011. It makes almost no sound.

Drone crew (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 6 months ago | (#47163195)

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.

They better leave early.... (1)

BranMan (29917) | about 6 months ago | (#47167533)

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

HDR pics (1)

quahog (111554) | about 6 months ago | (#47173639)

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

Speed (1)

severn2j (209810) | about 6 months ago | (#47193623)

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.)

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