Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Aviation

Boeing Solar Plane (SolarEagle) Could Circle Earth for Years

SolarEagle rendition by Boeing

Apparently, Boeing’s new solar plane could fly around the world for years without stopping. And if you thought (like I did), “Well, what about the need for food and drinks?,” that’s not an issue, since this baby can fly without a human pilot. SolarEagle is the name of this new clean tech creation, and while it may not be as birdlike as Leonardo da Vinci’s ornithopter, it is definitely one of the sweetest flying machines I’ve ever seen.

A few details:

SolarEagle is a solar/electric-powered high altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle system that can provide persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) and communications.

SolarEagle is designed with highly efficient electrical motors and propellers, and a high-aspect-ratio wing spanning more than 400 feet for increased aerodynamic performance. The highly-efficient propulsion system and long wingspan will allow SolarEagle to stay aloft for up to five years at altitudes above 60,000 feet.

A SolarEagle “demonstrator” will test SolarEagle’s flight characteristics and is to be built and ready to go by 2013, according to Boeing. It will fly for 30-90 days at the same altitudes as SolarEagle would. SolarEagle is supposed to then be ready for 5-year flights by 2014.

SolarEagle will carry payloads of up to 1,000 pounds, and its potential customers are the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and various telecommunications operations.

SolarEagle was created with with Defense money. Boeing reports:

Vulture II is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program. Boeing received the $3.8 million Vulture I contract from DARPA in April, 2008. SolarEagle is the second HALE aircraft Boeing is currently developing. In July, Boeing unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye. The Phantom Eye is designed to perform similar
missions as SolarEagle, but will stay aloft for 4 – 10 days at 65,000 feet. It is part of Boeing Phantom Works’ rapid prototyping program.

Vulture II is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program. Boeing received the $3.8 million Vulture I contract from DARPA in April, 2008. SolarEagle is the second HALE aircraft Boeing is currently developing. In July, Boeing unveiled the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye. The Phantom Eye is designed to perform similarmissions as SolarEagle, but will stay aloft for 4 – 10 days at 65,000 feet. It is part of Boeing Phantom Works’ rapid prototyping program.

My question is, if Boeing can get a plane like this ready by 2013 or 2014, how long will it be until commercial airlines can use solar or hydrogen power?

Image Credit: Chuck Schroeder, Boeing

 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 

Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
 

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.
Advertisement
 
Written By

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Comments

You May Also Like

Clean Power

America's national parks are front and center in wildlife conservation and renewable energy, too.

Batteries

Batteries are the secret ingredient in the new series Running Wild: The Challenge, and they also feature front and center in the US Army's...

Aviation

A new flow battery for electric vehicles is getting attention from DARPA, NASA, and the US Air Force.

Research

Using naturally occurring and engineered proteins and bacteria, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists and collaborators will separate and purify rare-earth elements so they can be...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.