Posts Tagged ‘Solar Impulse’

Solar Impulse returning home from Morocco

Monday, July 16th, 2012

UPDATE: Solar Impulse is safely on the ground at its home in Switzerland.

The Solar Impulse prototype, now in Madrid after visiting Morocco, will head out tomorrow July 17 for either home in Payerne, Switzerland, or if weather is bad, Toulouse. If they go, you can follow the action live from inside the cockpit. Once home the prototype is to rest in its hangar while its bigger brother is constructed for the world flight in 2014.  The main spar of that aircraft–that is 28 feet longer than the spar of the prototype now flying–failed a test while the prototype was returning from Morocco, and now the schedule for the world flight is uncertain.

Next Solar Impulse plane fails spar test

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

There are two Solar Impulse electric/solar airplanes. While HB-SIA (Swiss registration number) rests safely in Madrid for the right weather to return to Switzerland, HB-SIB that will go around the world is under construction. The main spar had been completed but snapped during a torsion test a few days ago, as was reported on the Solar Impulse site.  It’s a real setback for the 2014 world flight on zero fuel, hopping around the world on solar-recharged batteries.  Tears and sadness reigned in Dübendorf near Zurich just as engineers were preparing to celebrate the test’s success.

The only thing to do is to redesign and rebuild the spar, and whether it still flies in early 2013 is in doubt. It will be a bittersweet homecoming for the HB-SIA when it reaches Switzerland after a successful visit to Morocco, even though it was only designed for night tests.

It climbs to more than 20,000 feet by day, and descends slowly on battery power by night. Here’s wishing better luck to Bertrand Piccard and his quest to demonstrate alternative energy. I’m sending an e-mail to Piccard and Solar Impulse co-founder and CEO André Borschberg, opc@solarimpulse.com, letting them know about this post.

It’s not easy, inventing the future.

Could you fly for three days and nights?

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

 (Click images to enlarge.)

UPDATE: He’s out of the simulator and proved that he could function using relaxation techniques and “micro-sleep” periods 20 minutes at a time. Next up–long-duration flights with two pilots above the Mediterranean. They will not sleep when over land and during those times, will use only relaxation techniques.

The Twitter postings of Swiss pilot André Borschberg–now in a simulator in preparation for longer Solar Impulse flights–could get pretty funny soon. The Solar Impulse will fly nonstop around the world in 2014. He has been in the simulator as of this posting for about a day, and has two days to go. His entries on Twitter may change as he gets exhausted–but they simulate making reports to his control center. He is wearing enough sensing hardware on his head and body to make anyone uncomfortable. The idea is that two pilots will fly day and night at very slow speeds, drifting downward at night when no solar energy is available, and climbing during the day, to circle the world.This was a single-pilot experiment. It could take weeks. Keep track of these guys. They are going to make it…my prediction. The aircraft has already made it to Paris and back.