Solar Plane Will Circumnavigate Earth in 2015

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The co-founders behind the newly unveiled Solar Impulse 2 say the jet will be able to circle the planet in a three-month trip planned for next year using only solar power, but now they just need to "develop a sustainable pilot"

A new airplane was unveiled in Switzerland on Wednesday that its builder hopes will fly all the way around the earth using only solar power in 2015.

The Solar Impulse 2 has a 236-foot wingspan—longer than a Boeing 747—covered in 17,248 solar cells that power four electric motors, which in turn drive the plane’s propellers.

Weighing in at 5,000 pounds, the Solar Impulse will ferry just one pilot at a time and not much else at a top speed of 87 mph. To cross the vast Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the plane will have to stay airborne for at least five days at a time, gaining altitude during the day when the sun is out and slowly descending about 5,000 feet in the evening when it’s dark.

Written By: Denver Nicks
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4 COMMENTS

  1. @OP The co-founders behind the newly unveiled Solar Impulse 2 say the jet will be able to circle the planet in a three-month trip planned for next year using only solar power,

    Jet??? I saw propellers in the picture, while electric motors are mentioned.

    —covered in 17,248 solar cells that power four electric motors, which in turn drive the plane’s propellers.

    but now they just need to “develop a sustainable pilot”

    There is no need, – pilots have been found to be surplus to requirements!

    Google Acquires Titan Aerospace, The Drone Companyhttp://techcrunch.com/2014/04/14/google-acquires-titan-aerospace-the-drone-company-pursued-by-facebook/

    As for why an exit to Google looked appealing to a company like Titan, Sarah Perez outlines how Titan had sparked early interest from VCs thanks to its massive drones, which were capable of flying at a reported altitude of 65,000 feet for up to three years,

    Both Ascenta and Titan Aerospace are in the business of high altitude drones, which cruise nearer the edge of the earth’s atmosphere and provide tech that could be integral to blanketing the globe in cheap, omnipresent Internet connectivity to help bring remote areas online. According to the WSJ, Google will be using Titan Aerospace’s expertise and tech to contribute to Project Loon, the balloon-based remote Internet delivery project it’s currently working on along these lines.

    That’s not all the Titan drones can help Google with, however. The company’s robots also take high-quality images in real-time that could help with Maps initiatives, as well as contribute to things like “disaster relief” and addressing “deforestation,” a Google spokesperson tells WSJ. The main goal, however, is likely spreading the potential reach of Google and its network,

    It looks like these high-flying solar powered drones will replace masts, and will be be cheaper than satellites as internet communication relays.

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