We’ve been following the progress of the Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane that will attempt to circle the globe, for over a year. The single-seat plane took its first successful flight this past April, and now Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard is gearing up to send the plane on its inaugural night flight this Thursday.
The plane, which has a 208-foot wingspan and measures just 3,500 pounds (the same as a large car), is powered by four 10 horsepower electric motors. The motors gather energy from batteries, which in turn are juiced up by 12,000 solar cells covering the plane’s wings.
So far, Solar Impulse has taken 10 flights — all during the day. The night flight will require a 25-hour window of clear summer weather to take off from the Payerne airbase in Switzerland. If the latest flight attempt succeeds, the solar-powered plane will inch significantly closer to its goal of a round-the-world trip that will fly both during the day and night. Good luck to the Solar Impulse team!