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Power Transportation Science

Solar Impulse Airplane To Launch First Sun-Powered Flight Across America 89

Posted by samzenpus
from the guided-by-the-light dept.
First time accepted submitter markboyer writes "The Solar Impulse just landed at Moffett Field in Mountain View, California to announce a journey that will take it from San Francisco to New York without using a single drop of fuel. The 'Across America' tour will kick off this May when founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg take off from San Francisco. From there the plane will visit four cities across the states before landing in New York."
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Solar Impulse Airplane To Launch First Sun-Powered Flight Across America

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  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday March 29, 2013 @08:25AM (#43310615) Homepage

    At 43mph, they're entirely at the mercy of local weather conditions. And "without using a single drop of fuel"? Tish. Factor in the fuel used by the support crew as they fuss around it. Don't like that? Then let's see them do it without support.

    Even with fantasy efficiency, there's no mass-to-surface-area that could make this a commercially viable form of transport, ever. It's a beautiful folly, and an impressive exercise in materials science, and should be enjoyed on that basis. The PV aspect is essentially a gimmick though.

  • by CdBee (742846) on Friday March 29, 2013 @08:56AM (#43310731)
    But not as air transport. If it can fly without need for refuelling, it can stand in for a communications satellite, endlessly and automatically circling one spot above the cloud level
  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Friday March 29, 2013 @09:04AM (#43310759)
    It amy not hae any practical value, but it does have PR value.

    Did Lindbergh, or Earhart do anything practical with their feats? Did Gagarin, or Glenn, or Armstrong?

    Not really. But they did keep the public's mind on things which otherwise it may not have. This can be used as a diversion, but it can also be used to help drive technology forward.

    Maybe some people decide to put solar panels on their house. Maybe it drives some investors imaginations into funding the technology (or the government) and advancing the art. Maybe some kid sees it and gets inspired. Years later he goes to Harvard and makes an advance that makes solar energy more feasible as an energy source.

    My point is, you cannot sit in your basement being all cynical, stroking your neckbeard, and saying it doesn't work, so there is no point. People NEED to get out and try. They need to capture imaginations.

    By the way, I do not mean to say that YOU have a neckbeard or live in a basement, but am talking about that general cynical attitude often found here. An attitude that I contribute to more often than I like to admit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 29, 2013 @09:30AM (#43310913)

    At 43mph, they're entirely at the mercy of local weather conditions. And "without using a single drop of fuel"? Tish. Factor in the fuel used by the support crew as they fuss around it. Don't like that? Then let's see them do it without support.

    Even with fantasy efficiency, there's no mass-to-surface-area that could make this a commercially viable form of transport, ever. It's a beautiful folly, and an impressive exercise in materials science, and should be enjoyed on that basis. The PV aspect is essentially a gimmick though.

    Fine. Then use it as a crop duster. Hell, make solar-powered drones for that matter. Plenty of pointless demand for those damn things to justify the fuel savings (well, kind of).

    The point is not every form of flight is specifically designed to haul the obese (m)asses and their 200 pounds of first-world essentials around. Try opening your mind a bit as to some of the uses this kind of hardware could provide, especially autonomously.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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