Solar Impulse Plane to fly Internationally

 

The project began in 2003 and is estimated to cost about $100 million over 10 years. In 2010, the Swiss flew non-stop for 26-hour to demonstrate that the 12,000 solar cells attached to the aircraft can soak up enough sunlight to keep the plane airborne through the night. A year later, Pilot Andre Borschberg e took Solar Impulse on its first international flight to Belgium and France. An experimental solar-powered airplane took off from Switzerland on its first transcontinental flight Thursday, aiming to reach North Africa next week.

Pilot Andre Borschberg planned to take the jumbo jet-size Solar Impulse plane on its first leg to Madrid, Spain, by Friday. His colleague Bertrand Piccard will take the helm of the aircraft for the second stretch of its 2,500-kilometer (1,554-mile) journey to the Moroccan capital Rabat. The prototype single-seater aircraft is susceptible to adverse weather.“We can’t fly into clouds because it was not designed for that,” Borschberg said as he piloted the lumbering plane with its 63-meter (207-foot) wingspan toward the eastern French city of Lyon at a cruising speed of just 70 kilometers an hour (43.5 mph). The mission is described as the final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight with a new and improved aircraft in 2014. That trip will include stops in the United States, said Borschberg.

The team has been invited to Morocco by the country’s King Mohammed VI to showcase the cutting edge of solar technology. Morocco is about to start construction on a massive solar energy plant at Ouarzazate. The plant will form part of a country-wide solar energy grid with a capacity of 2000 megawatts by 2020.

via HuffingtonPost