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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Solar-powered airplane sets record

This is really cool.

Three days in the air at 60,000 feet and it doesn't have to carry any fuel source except for the batteries that kept it aloft at night.

But the goal is a solar-powered plane that will stay up for months at a time. Wow.

Posted by Terrence Watson on August 24, 2008 | Permalink


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...Google Earth is next!

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-08-24 10:04:36 PM

How cool.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2008-08-24 11:03:01 PM

This is very cool indeed. I wonder if anyone is looking to apply this to commercial air traffic or if the physics and weight of airliners are simply too much for the application?
In any event I'm sure it has great surveillance potential.

Posted by: JC | 2008-08-25 6:52:32 AM

The trouble with solar has not been that it doesn't work, but because the electricity it generates is not easily stored for later use. Electrochemical batteries have to charge at their own rate and usually require complex filtering circuitry. Once the use of supercapacitors becomes widespread, we will be able to dump and use electricity at will at any rate necessary. Homes will be able to collect power during the day and store it for use at night. Cars could have solar roofs and trickle-charge while parked. It's all about the storage technology--and that's coming.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-08-25 7:58:29 AM

P.S. I don't think that solar plane would be that good a choice for surveillance, JC. A solar plane would ideally have a large surface area covered with cells to collect energy and long, wide wings designed for soaring with minimal engine thrust. Just the attributes you don't want in a surveillance craft, because it makes it almost impossible to minimize the radar signature. In other words, it'll be a sitting duck.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-08-25 8:20:30 AM

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