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Solar Impulse Aircraft

Solar Impulse Aircraft

Maiden flight for Bertrand Piccard’s Solar Impulse aircraft – [ted.com]

Solar Impulse, the solar airplane that Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard described in his captivating talk at TEDGlobal 2009, took off successfully this morning from Payerne airfield, in Western Switzerland, on its maiden flight. The aircraft (which has a wingspan of 63.40 meters but a weight of only 1600 kg and a speed at takeoff of just 45 km/h) climbed to 1200 metres. Test pilot Markus Scherdel used the opportunity to test various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) and to verify the plane’s controllability, which so far had only been simulated with computers.

SOLARIMPULSE – [solarimpulse.com]


  • SOLARIMPULSE TV (videos)

Six questions about the Solar Impulse plane Six questions about the Solar Impulse plane – [ieee.org]

Meanwhile, Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse CEO and daredevil, is tucked away in his tiny cockpit, from which he will pilot the monster with the 61-meter wingspan for the next 24 hours. But as you might imagine, this isn’t the kind of plane you set on auto-pilot and go have a coffee and a snack. Borschberg will need to be alert for the entire time because the plane must not tilt more than five degrees: If it does, its massive wingspan and light weight could cause the plane to spin out of control. So, Borschberg needs to remain alert enough to keep the plane straight for all 24 hours of his journey—even in complete darkness.

Solar-Powered Airplane Attempts First Night Flight – [universetoday.com]

The plane has a 61 meter wingspan, and the wings are covered with 12,000 state-of-the-art photovoltaic solar cells that power the plane. Using so-called intelligent light materials and new energy storage, the plane will be able to fly both night and day, completely on solar power. Solar impulse weights 1,600 kg and can fly at speeds up to 70 kmh at a maximum altitude of 8,500 m (27,900 ft).

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