Solar Impulse 2 Embarks On Atlantic Crossing - InformationWeek

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Solar Impulse 2 Embarks On Atlantic Crossing
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Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
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6/21/2016 | 1:37:25 PM
An electricity-driven plane ride may be in your future
Critics say Solar Impulse is an ungainly aircraft without much practical application. Among other things, it's illustrating that electrical engines are good for aircraft. They can fly at high altitude, where air resistance is lessened. Solar Impulse 2 rises to 28,000 feet in its journey but its designers say it can actually fly up to 39,000, feet. Oxygen is thin at that altitude but Solar Impulse would require no superchargers because an electical engine doesn't need oxygen. Siemens makes an electric aircraft engine with a high thrust to weight ratio and someone is likely to design a high flying aircraft around it.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
6/22/2016 | 9:10:08 AM
Re: An electricity-driven plane ride may be in your future
Charlie, 

So, Solar Impulse arrives in Seville tomorrow, right in time for some late tapas. This is a great adventure for Piccard, and certainly a big step in the history of aviation. 

While reading, I wondered about how he manages with sleeping. "He will catnap as he flies, being awakened every 20 minutes to check on the plane," you say. However, I still wonder how he manages with sleeping, and if the aircraft counts with auto-pilot, if there is some kind of automation in place in case he is not able to wake up due to a deep sleep segment, which is natural.

Being awaken every 20 minutes sounds like torture to me. It's neither healthy nor safe for the mission, in my opinion. Of course, most likely they have evaluated all this, and considered the risks, especially being Piccard a phychiatrist. Almost four days is quite some time to be exposed to sleep interruptions. Plenty of research has indicated that sleep interruptions lead to health risks as much as no sleep at all. Do you have some information about this? 

-Susan


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