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Sunseeker team building a two-passenger solar-powered airplane

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October 25, 2012

The Sunseeker Duo is billed as the world's first two-passenger solar aircraft

The Sunseeker Duo is billed as the world's first two-passenger solar aircraft

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Piloted solar flight has been a reality for some time, with even international flights now possible. Up to this point, such voyages have been a strictly solo affair, however the team originally responsible for the Sunseeker II intends to change this by manufacturing what’s billed as the world’s first two-seater solar aircraft – a motor glider named the Sunseeker Duo.

The design of the Sunseeker Duo is based upon the Stemme S-10, a glider which has been in production since the 1980’s and features a folding propellor which is contained within the aircraft’s nose cone when not in use. The Sunseeker Duo maintains this design, though does so while aiming to reduce the weight of the Stemme S-10 from its standard empty weight of 645 kg (1,422 pounds), to 270 kg (595 pounds).

The propeller will be driven by a 20 kW direct drive motor, with power deriving from 72 li...

The Sunseeker Duo sports a wingspan of 23 meters (75 feet) and the propeller will be driven by a 20 kW direct drive motor, with power provided by 72 lithium-polymer batteries, wired in series. Those batteries are said to store enough power to allow 20 minutes of full-power climbing, and following this, the pilot may glide while they charge. When above the clouds, the Sunseeker Duo will have the capacity to cruise on direct solar power for hours.

At present, the Sunseeker Duo is still a work-in-progress, and in order to help bring the project to completion, the Sunseeker team has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds. If all goes to plan, project leader Eric Raymond aims to make a series of flights worldwide, beginning with a circumnavigation of the Americas, with the goal of highlighting the benefits of solar technology.

In addition, a documentary film crew will follow the progress of Raymond, and a book is also planned to document the adventure.

The video below features the team's pitch.

Source: Kickstarter

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam is a tech and music writer based in North Wales. When not working, you’ll usually find Adam tinkering with old Macintosh computers, reading history books, or exploring the countryside with his dog Finley.   All articles by Adam Williams
8 Comments

I bet they don't get the money.. a really bad idea if you ask me.. Who wants to spend so much money on a low performing, dangerous electric death machine? It is impractical, I would rather just buy a glider or a proper sport plane.

Michael Mantion
25th October, 2012 @ 05:28 pm PDT

Losing power at the same time as you lose updrafts does not sound appealing to me.

Pikeman
25th October, 2012 @ 07:07 pm PDT

This aircraft should easily come to market in a year or two and any owner will be the envy of all pilots, I am sure. This is glider of my dreams. Personally I could never find the money for one, or could I? How much for an arm and a leg?

The critics have some imagination but not nearly enough.

Good luck to the project, I will forever praise it as I do Gunther Rochelt's and Eric Raymond's other efforts.

Bruce Hudson
26th October, 2012 @ 05:15 am PDT

Lovely plane! Hope you'll get enough money to get it into the air!

Tord S Eriksson
26th October, 2012 @ 02:44 pm PDT

Comment:

Call it a 2 person plane, not a 2 passenger plane, that implies that it can hold 3 people, (pilot plus 2 passengers)

I love the concept of hybrid gliders long as it is a light as a regular motor glider, stored power to get to altitude... glide the updrafts.. cruise the sun shine. and go home to bed..... (top up the battery if depleted ) and do it all again the next day.... no fueller needed...

MD
28th October, 2012 @ 03:20 am PDT

needs inflatable float landing gear to takeoff/land on water.

needs place on back of passenger pod to connect a propane-powered generator.

does it have headlights for night landing?

(fly all day, then land, hop from lake to lake)

Joe M. Wesson
30th October, 2012 @ 10:03 am PDT

http://www.intelligent-energy.com/ This company has a fuel cell power unit that can be used in airplanes (as well as cars and motorcycles and other powered vehicles) that could possible give it a boost in power when the solar cells either not getting any power or not enough power to be used to propel it when it is needed. There is even an airplane at the site.

Personally I think it is really cool; IMO.

BigWarpGuy
2nd November, 2012 @ 08:11 am PDT

This is incredible, I believe the first step into the future of flying! Perhaps not fully solar planes, but as battery power improves, perhaps hybrid solar. Kudos!

Jason Hoffman
12th January, 2013 @ 06:54 am PST
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