The Solar Impulse solar-powered airplane is unstoppable so far. Earlier this summer, the single-seat plane completed its first night flight, and now the aircraft is getting ready for three test flights across Switzerland — from Payerne to Geneva, Geneva to Zurich, and Zurich to Payerne.
The Solar Impulse is a fairly simple piece of machinery: it has a 208-foot wingspan, measures 3,500 pounds, and is powered by four 10-horsepower electric motors that gather energy from batteries. The plane’s batteries are replenished by 12,000 solar cells located on its wings.
The plane will begin its journey from a military airbase in Payerne and land at Geneva International Airport. No word yet on when the flights will take off, but the Solar Impulse team says it will be sometime next year. After that, the plane will gear up for its ultimate goal of taking a purely solar-powered flight around the world — an objective that Solar Impulse team members hope can be reached by 2013 or 2014.