Aborted Ballooning Mission & High Altitude Wireless Broadband (With Pics)

Observer Mark Loftus noticed that the Mac played a big part in an experimental flight to offer wireless broadband connectivity from an aircraft. It may sound a bit wacky, but a private group, funded in part by the Feds mixed with some help from NASA, has tested a plane called Helios that is designed to fly "at the edge of the atmosphere" and provide wireless connectivity. The plan is to offer wireless broadband without the use of satellites. The project used a Mac to control the plane. From Mark:

I wasnit sure if this should go to Mac Sightings, but I thought youid be interested in this article [about an experiment in high-altitude flight]. It only briefly mentions Macs but again, Apple is on the cutting edge.

Hereis the Mac related information from the article:

But Helios is unique in its design and in plans for its use. With a wingspan of 247 feet - wider than a Boeing 747 - Helios is 6 feet high and weighs 1,850 pounds, which allows it to take off at just 30 m.p.h. It flies on the edge of Earthis atmosphere, 100,000 feet high. Heliosi 14 electric motors run on solar power generated by 65,000 solar cells by day, and on fuel cells energized by solar power by night. Heliosi "brain" is an Apple Computer Macintosh (news - web sites) computer that would guide it back to Earth when necessary.

The rest of the article is also pretty interesting.

In another bit of high-altitude adventuring, it was announced this morning that Steve Fosset has had to abandon his attempt to become the first person to fly around the world solo in a balloon. Thunderstorms and dwindling oxygen supplies forced the balloonist to land in Brazil. Observer Joe Luft caught an image at the projectis official Web site that shows off a Cube rather nicely in the projectis Mission Control center. According to Joe:

A Cube sighting at mission control for Steve Fossettis solo balloon flight around the world. http://www.solospirit.wustl.edu/imagethumbs.asp

There are many other images at the site, so check it out.

Thanks to Observer Carroll for the note! If you have a Mac sighting, let us know.