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Solar Impulse Unveiled: Sun-Powered Airplane to Circle the Globe
Flight pioneer Bertrand Piccard, an aeronaut who made the first nonstop round the world balloon flight, recently unveiled a prototype of an incredible solar-powered airplane that will one day circle the globe. Dubbed the Solar Impulse, the plane first caught our attention when it was being developed, and we’re thrilled to see a working prototype of the vehicle. Is the age of the solar powered airplane upon us?
The first test of the HB-SIA, (the technical name for the Solar Impulse), will take place at the end of 2009. The Solar Impulse team is aiming for a flight sequence that will last for two days and one night, propelled only by solar energy. Once that test is completed, they plan on traveling around the world.
The Solar Impulse is made out of carbon fibre concentrate, looks like a glider, and has a wingspan of over 60 meters. The wings are covered in almost 12,000 solar cells which store excess power in over 400 kilograms worth of batteries. These solar cells power four ten horsepower electric motors, which propel the plane into flight.
“If an aircraft is able to fly day and night without fuel, propelled solely by solar energy, let no one come and claim that it is impossible to do the same thing for motor vehicles, heating and air conditioning systems and computers.” said Bertrand Piccard. Sounds like history in the making.
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