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posted by janrinok on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:16AM   Printer-friendly
from the made-it! dept.

They made it to Hawaii

A plane powered by the sun's rays has landed in Hawaii after a record-breaking five-day journey across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.

http://westhawaiitoday.com/news/state-wire/solar-powered-plane-lands-hawaii-after-flight-japan

Solar Impulse Plane Lands in Hawaii

Solar Impulse, the aeroplane that is powered only by the sun, has landed in Hawaii after making a historic 7,200km flight across the Pacific from Japan. Pilot Andre Borschberg brought the vehicle gently down on to the runway of Kalaeloa Airport at 05:55 local time (15:55 GMT; 16:55 BST).

The distance covered and the time spent in the air - 118 hours - are records for manned, solar-powered flight. The duration is also an absolute record for a solo, un-refuelled journey. Mr Borschberg's time betters that of the American adventurer Steve Fossett who spent 76 hours aloft in a single-seater jet in 2006.

Despite being in the cockpit for so long, the Swiss pilot told the BBC that he did not feel that tired: "Interestingly, not really. "I am also astonished. We got so much support during the flight from so many people; it gave me so much energy."

Pretty amazing feat. Not only the longest solo flight, but also without burning a drop of fuel.


Original Submission

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Solar-powered Plane Stuck in Hawaii Until 2016 Because of "Irreversible" Damage to Batteries 10 comments

The plane, called Solar Impulse 2, recently completed the longest leg of its global flight -- a five-day, five-night journey from Nagoya, Japan, to Hawaii. During that trip, the plane's batteries overheated and sustained "irreversible" damage, according to a statement from the team.

The next leg of the journey, which would have taken the plane to Phoenix, was set for as early as this week.

The team said the temperature of the batteries during quick ascents and descents in a tropical climate was "not properly anticipated."

"The damage to the batteries is not a technical failure or a weakness in the technology," the team said. "Setbacks are part of the challenges of a project which is pushing technological boundaries to the limits."

I'm looking forward to the next flight record being set by an ornithopter.


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:34AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:34AM (#204969) Homepage Journal

    I have determined this experimentally.

    But we do need to rest.

    There is a certain procedure, and I'm happy to post it but right now?

    I need to rest.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:48AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:48AM (#204974)

      I'd ask you let us know when you die of the side effects of sleep deprivation, but as memory loss is one of the more debilitating side effects, have fun not sleeping!

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Gravis on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:46AM

    by Gravis (4596) on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:46AM (#204973)

    the name of the plane in question is named "Solar Impulse 2", not "Solar Impulse". yes, there was a Solar Impulse but this isn't it. read it and weep or you know... just change it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_Impulse [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:52AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @08:52AM (#204976)

    Attach this magical flying machine to a minting press and print some money! Without burning a drop of fuel! Astounding!

    • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @09:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @09:03AM (#204978)

      Yes, without directly burning a drop of fuel on this journey, but what about the amount spent/wasted making this thing?

      And what about the sunlight that was supposed to reach the ground (or sea) below and now that sunlight has been wasted travelling an unnecessary journey?

      A butterfly flapping its wings _can_ cause a hurricane.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bradley13 on Saturday July 04 2015, @09:22AM

    by bradley13 (3053) on Saturday July 04 2015, @09:22AM (#204980) Homepage Journal

    Maybe a silly question, but I've not seen it really answered anywhere...

    They make this huge deal out of the pilot not being able to sleep more than a few minutes at a time. Why? What is so difficult about putting an autopilot in the plane, and having an alarm that would wake the pilot if something occurs that the autopilot can't handle? Sure, it's a custom airplane, it would take custom programming - but that would be a pittance against what they've already invested?

    My supposition is that is just egoistic: the kind of people who find it important to get in the record books cannot imagine just being passengers - even though it's the technology that's record-breaking here, not the people.

    --
    Everyone is somebody else's weirdo.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by f4r on Saturday July 04 2015, @12:26PM

      by f4r (4515) on Saturday July 04 2015, @12:26PM (#204999)
      I suspect one reason might be that, to make an autopilot system that could fly the plane that reliably, it would probably be a greater investment than the plane itself. Commercial jets have crashed on autopilot before, due to somewhat simple things such as a frozen wind angle sensor (which was only frozen because the plane had been incorrectly washed after storage and water penetrated the internals). An alarm can only inform you of something that the system knows about, but can do nothing (and potentially make things worse) for things it doesn't know about. For an experimental craft like this, it is probably much easier to just marathon it like he did, instead of investing the significant time, money and effort in creating a one-off autopilot system.
      --
      Do not use as directed.
      • (Score: 2) by lentilla on Saturday July 04 2015, @01:29PM

        by lentilla (1770) on Saturday July 04 2015, @01:29PM (#205007)

            If I was building an experimental aircraft, I think I could afford an autopilot - although it wouldn't be a particularly complicated or capable one. You can buy autopilots for boats in the few thousand dollar range. There's not much to them: a servo-arm that pulls and pushes the tiller and a computer that maintains the heading. That covers left/right so you'd need another one for up/down. Once the plane is up and flying, it's pretty much "maintain heading and altitude" probably for hours at a time. The computer can quite happily be told to alarm if the system can't maintain the course or other critical thresholds are reached.

    • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Saturday July 04 2015, @03:32PM

      by captain normal (2205) on Saturday July 04 2015, @03:32PM (#205032)

      An autopilot would be a large investment in weight and energy consumption. The mechanics of such would be as much or more than the weight of the pilot in order to control all the systems involved in piloting this machine. It is basically a glider with electric motors, batteries and solar cells. instead of finding thermal rising air to climb, it uses the solar cells to power the motors and charge the batteries while climbing during the day. My guess is that at night the motors were used sparingly to maintain altitude while mostly gliding. The electronic "brains" for such an autopilot are not the weight problem, but the necessary servo motors and wires are. Then there is the problem of battery drain.
      The really amazing thing to me is the routing/navigation involved in finding a "weather window" and then managing to avoid any storms in the north Pacific.

      --
      "If men were angels, government would not be necessary." James Madison
      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by captain normal on Saturday July 04 2015, @03:48PM

        by captain normal (2205) on Saturday July 04 2015, @03:48PM (#205038)

        Speaking of routing, there is one other consideration: If they don't see a favorable window in the weather soon, by the middle of August they will lose 30 minutes of daylight. That might be critical in the next leg.

        --
        "If men were angels, government would not be necessary." James Madison
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @10:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @10:27AM (#204987)

    Pretty amazing feat. Not only the longest solo flight, but also without burning a drop of fuel.

    He sure did burn the midnight oil though.

  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @02:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 04 2015, @02:10PM (#205017)

    now .. nuclear bombs with unlimted loitering time!

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday July 04 2015, @02:50PM

    by kaszz (4211) on Saturday July 04 2015, @02:50PM (#205023) Journal

    Not fast at 61 km/h.
    But then fuel is kind of cheap even if the plane ain't.

  • (Score: 2) by albert on Saturday July 04 2015, @10:20PM

    by albert (276) on Saturday July 04 2015, @10:20PM (#205121)

    He was refueling all day long.