The totally solar powered Solar Impulse aircraft made its maiden international flight across Europe today, piloted by Andre Borschberg. Slowly but surely, the aircraft flew from western Switzerland and over France and Luxembourg, to an airport in Brussels, Belgium. The Solar Impulse was first tested last summer, with a successful flight circling the skies above Switzerland.
The 300 mile flight took the Impulse about 12 hours, traveling at about 25 miles per hour, at an altitude of just under 12,000 feet. The one seater aircraft is similar in size to a large plane, but weighs the same as a sedan automobile. The wings are covered with 12,000 solar cells which absorb the sun’s energy, and in turn charge batteries that power the four propellers which are run by the 10-horsepower motors.
The Solar Impulse proved itself with last summer’s test flight, holding its endurance for a 26 hour, 10 minute, 19 second flight over Switzerland, that was powered by the sun’s rays! It has also flown numerous times between Geneva and Zurich, but last Friday’s flight marked the first time it flew through crowded commercial airspace.
The plane plans to conquer transatlantic and round-the world flights in 2013 and 2014. The Solar Impulse team is excited about the possibilities, as these flights have proven that completely renewable-energy powered planes are not only possible, but a reality!
The Brussels airport will host an exhibition of the Solar Impulse, and details of green technology until May 29th, when the solar plane will jet to Paris to go on display at the Le Bourget air show.
Via Phys Org