Solar-Powered Aircraft to Fly Around the World?
The world’s first solar-powered flight around the world is not too far into the future.
The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, a lightweight airplane powered entirely by solar, is planning its first cross-country voyage for this year with no fuel- that’s only if you don’t count photons from the sun.
The Solar Impulse was an idea that became a working prototype through ambition, years of planning, and hard work. An airplane that can fly during both day and night exclusively from solar energy was the kind of aspiration most would disregarded as unfeasible, simply because it hadn’t been done yet.
|“If an aircraft is able to fly day and night without fuel, propelled only by solar energy, let no one claim that it is impossible to do the same thing for motor vehicles, heating and air conditioning systems and computers. This project voices our conviction that a pioneering spirit with political vision can together change society and bring about an end to fossil fuel dependency.” – Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse.|
Solar Impulse HB-SIA is the prototype that’s proving to the world that can be accomplished with renewable energy.
With a wingspan exceeding 200 feet, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA has a width comparable to that of an Airbus A340. The plane has a skeleton of carbon fiber-honeycomb composites and only weighs about 1.8 tons- about that of an average vehicle. The entire plane is designed to conserve energy.
In June of 2012, this pilot project successfully completed a 19-hour trip from Spain to Morocco.
In 2013, Solar Impulse HB-SIA plans to fly the plane from California to Virginia, so keep your eyes peeled for more news on this plane.
The Solar Impulse HB-SIB, the next generation model that’s been under construction since 2011, has a wing-span loaded with 15000 monocrystalline solar cells to keep the plane powered for its trip around the world in the next couple of years.
The Solar Impulse HB-SIB will attempt to circumnavigate planet Earth, flying both day and night. It’s even equipted with a cockpick that’s large enough for the pilots to recline and take a snooze. There will be 5 stops along the way to switch pilots every few days.
Testing of the Solar Impulse HB-SIB is scheduled for 2014 and the plane’s round-the-world flight is planned to take place between April and July of 2015. Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the project’s leaders, feel confident that they will fly a solar-powered airplane across the globe in 2015.
According to www.SolarImpulse.com, the aim of the Solar Impulse project is “to use the power of this airborne symbol to help change people’s minds about renewable energies. In the present context, people are put off by the sheer scale of the problems. Instead, they should be encouraged, because technological solutions exist that can create jobs and open new markets whilst also protecting the environment.”