Solar-powered airplane makes first international flight

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Solar Impulse during its first flight on December 3, 2009
Image: Matth1.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse touched down at the Brussels National Airport late Friday night, after completing a 13-hour flight from its home base in Payerne, Switzerland. It was the first international flight by a fully solar-powered aircraft.

The experimental aircraft was piloted by André Borschberg, co-founder and chief engineer for the Solar Impulse project, which hopes to circumnavigate the globe using only the sun's energy in 2013. "Our goal is to create a revolution in the minds of people...to promote solar energies -- not necessarily a revolution in aviation," Bertrand Piccard, the group's other co-founder, said in an interview after the flight.

The aircraft collects energy from the sun using 12,000 extremely thin solar cells affixed to the wings and tail section. An on-board battery can store enough electricity to fly all night, allowing the Solar Impulse to stay aloft indefinitely. This allowed the aircraft to maintain a holding pattern over the Brussels airport as other flights landed and conditions were right for the Solar Impulse to land. Because the aircraft weighs only about 3,500 pounds and has a wingspan of 200 feet, it is extremely sensitive to wind and needs calm conditions to land safely.


Related news

Sources

External links

Bookmark-new.svg