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Solar Impulse continues its record-breaking solar-powered flights on 22 April 2016, from Hawaii to California, US, the ninth part of its 13-leg, 500-hour, 35,000-kilometer, round-the-world journey.
This 12-year design project and collaborative effort to create new materials, propulsion, structure and energy demonstrates how Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform is used by aviation pioneers to power the design and simulation of intelligent systems.
According to Dassault, the Solar Impulse team used the 3DEXPERIENCE platform for complex structure design, digital simulation, 3D modelling and full data traceability, to virtually experience the aircraft in its operating environment before it embarked on its revolutionary journey without fuel. This included, defining every layer of the plane’s structure; managing the distribution of weight throughout the plane in order to determine the power needed to keep it airborne; integrating technologies from other industries—for example refrigerator insulation—for the first time into aircraft; testing wingspan weight-width-length combinations for strength and reliability; and creating 3D models to simulate transporting the aircraft on the ground.
Dassault explains that the resulting Solar Impulse 2 aircraft relies on a strategic combination of size, weight, pressurisation and technological configurations, a 2,300-kilogram structure with a 72-meter wingspan composed primarily of light carbon fibre composites; 17,248 solar cells and solar panels measuring 269.5 square meters to produce 340 kilowatts of solar energy by day that enable the plane to fly day or night; and a single seat, 3.8-cubic meter cockpit designed for pilot comfort and ergonomics up to six consecutive days and nights at temperatures ranging from -40°C to 40°C and zero pressurisation, plus room for supplies.
Solar Impulse, piloted by André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, will next travel across the US before flying over the Atlantic Ocean en-route to its original point of departure, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
In addition to its collaboration with Solar Impulse, Dassault Systèmes’ technologies have been used for other pioneering aerospace projects, including Felix Baumgartner’s 2012 space jump to earth and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipOne.
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