Solar Impulse 2: We Love To See You Hit The Sky
“Solar Impulse 2 is the only airplane of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel.”
The Solar Impulse 2 is a newer version of the original aircraft, with a wingspan that measures 236 feet (72 meters) – wider than a Boeing 747’s wingspan. It carries 17,000 solar cells that allowing the aircraft to fly almost indefinitely without fuel. The Solar Impulse 2 weighs just 5,070 pounds (2,300 kilograms), less than a Toyota Tundra pickup truck, according to company officials.
The Solar Impulse 2 made its maiden flight on June 2nd. Since then, it has completed 11 successful test flights. The plane’s predecessor, Solar Impulse 1, became the first solar airplane ever to fly through the night. The plane undertook successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Spain and Morocco as its first intercontinental flight, and conducted a multi-stage flight across the USA in 2013. The Solar Impulse 1 is credited with eight Federation Aeronautique Internationale World Records, including absolute height: 9235 m (30300 ft); duration: 26 hours, 10 minutes, 19 seconds; and free distance: 1506.5 km (936 miles).
Founded by Piccard and Borschberg, the gigantic dimensions of this ultra-lightweight revolutionary airplane are to be capable of flying day and night without fuel. To build it, the whole team had to push back the frontiers of knowledge in materials science, energy management and the man-machine interface. Every single one of its takeoffs, propelled silently by its four electric motors, inspires the team to consider using clean, new technologies to free our society, little by little, from dependence on fossil energy.
Our airplane is not designed to carry passengers, but to carry a message, said Bertrand Piccard.
From the very start of the project, we understood that our primary goal was to save energy, André Borschberg added.
The Solar Impulse Project has done more than the role for which it is designed. It has provoked the discussions amongst the highest political and economic authorities about technological solutions to help achieving the world’s agreed CO2 reduction targets. It also allows tackling the problem of resistance to change, which risk locking us for too long into the dangerous and costly consequences of old habits. The Solar Impulse Project is an example of what clean technology is capable of achieving.
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