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Solar aircraft a look into the future of flight?

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Solar aircraft a look into the future of flight?

Old 12-02-2011, 06:19 AM
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Default Solar aircraft a look into the future of flight?

It can't be very hard for Bertrand Piccard to explain to his family why he wants to fly around the world with only sunlight for fuel.

In the 1930s, his grandfather, physicist and inventor Auguste Piccard, applied his excitement and interest in ballooning to designing a high-flying balloon attached to a pressurized aluminum gondola. The first of its kind, Auguste's flying machine completed a record-breaking climb more than 50,000 feet into the air, gathering valuable data about the Earth's upper atmosphere along the way.

Fitting that Bertrand, for what it's worth, defeated the notorious Sir Richard Branson by becoming the first man to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon in 1999.

His grandfather's pioneering principles of balloon technology were eventually applied to allow descent into the deep ocean, which informed the work of his father, Jacques Piccard, an oceanographer and engineer who made history in 1960 as part of the first and only manned exploration of the Challenger Deep, the deepest place in the ocean.

The work of his family would provide the vision -- and the name -- for Gene Roddenberry's Captain Jean-Luc Picard, who would seem to exercise some influence over the real Piccard too. Bertrand's enthusiasm for adventure, morally sound intuition and haircut seem directly taken from Roddenberry's description of the fictional spaceship captain.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/30/tech/v...ane/index.html
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