Solar Impulse 2, First Solar Powered Plane On a Round-the-World Flight



Congratulations readers! We have achieved another landmark in our pursuit to build an eco-friendly and sustainable future.

Solar Impulse 2 is the first solar-powered plane to be able to fly for many days and nights. It will land 12 times along the 35,000 km (22,000miles) trip and interestingly, the trip includes a five-day stretch above the Pacific Ocean.

Solar Impulse successfully completed its test flight on Monday in Abu Dhabi, giving a green signal to the round-the-world trip.

The Solar Impulse 2 will take from Abu Dhabi’s Al-Bateen on Saturday.

“We want to demonstrate that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve even the impossible. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives and together we can help save our planet’s natural resources,” said Solar Impulse Chairman Bertrand Piccard.

The route for the plane was unveiled in Abu Dhabi on Jan 20. It will stop at Muscat in Oman to receive benefits from the Gulf’s low-cloud conditions, before crossing the Arabian Sea to India and heading on to Myanmar, China, Hawaii and New York. Moreover, landings for the Midwestern United States and either Southern Europe or North Africa are earmarked depending on the weather conditions.

The longest single leg will be the one in which this solar powered plane is to fly non-stop for five days and nights across the Pacific Ocean between Nanjing in China and Hawaii. The distance is estimated to be around 8,500 kms.

The total flying time will be around 25 days for the plane to complete its round-the-world journey. With flight speeds of 50-100 km (30-60 miles) per hour, the entire journey is expected to take approximately five months to complete.

It is worth noticing that the plane is successor to Solar Impulse, a pioneering aircraft that took off for its maiden flight on April 7, 2010 in Payerne, Switzerland. It took a 26-hour flight proving its ability to store enough power in lithium batteries during the day to keep flying at night. This year’s flight is said to be the culmination of 12 years of research and testing.

The makers of Solar Impulse 2 claim that the aircraft is the most energy efficient aircraft ever built. The craft has a wider wingspan than a Boeing 747 but kudos to its innovative design that it weighs comparatively less. This single seater solar powered plane has 17,249 solar cells which are built into its wings. These cells will supply 4 electric motors and rechargeable lithium batteries.

However, the speed at night will be limited to prevent the batteries from being run down too quickly.

Update: Here is the video of solar impulse test flight at AbuDhabi

Update: This solar plane will circumnavigate the globe, starting from tomorrow

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Pragati Verma

Pragati Verma

An amateur blogger interested in science, space and things around me.
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