Shedding Light on Solar Flight
Twenty solar modules powered the Breitling Orbital 2 balloon that set a world record for flight duration this spring. BEOC Battery personnel and Andy Elson of the Orbiter crew designed the square structure that held 20 Solarex MSX-56 Ultralite solar modules. Each was tilted at 60 degrees from horizontal, five per side, on a lightweight structure suspended beneath the gondola. Emergency lithium packs were taken along as back up, but were not needed.
The solar modules charged five batteries to supply the crew`s electrical needs, including power for a microwave cooker, an array of satellite communications, plus an aircraft transponder and navigation lights.
The greatest altitude reached was 29,000 feet and the lowest temperature recorded was minus 53 F. The flight began in Switzerland and finished in Burma, after nine days, 17 hours and 55 minutes, an increase