Friday, November 20, 2009

First Solar-Powered Flight Around the World

Above is a prototype of the solar powered plane known as the Impulse. It is the result of six years of work by a team of 70. Bertrand Piccard has already made history by flying around-the-world non-stop on a balloon flight. Now he plans on making history again by circling the world in the Impulse.

At 63 meters, the Impulse has the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400 and, at 3500lbs, the weight of an average family car. Over 12,000 solar cells supply the four 10 HP electric motors. This is roughly the same amount of power the Wright brothers had in 1903. During the day 90 lbs of lithium-polymer batteries are charged to allow flight throughout the night.

The first long range test flights are planned for later this year at Dübendorf airport followed by night flights over Switzerland in 2010. Based on the results of these test flights, the final version of the aircraft will be built to circumnavigating the world in 2012.


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