Solar Powered Plane Goes On Test Launch, Will Go Around the World in 2012By Chris Weiss
Before you jump in and pilot a solar-powered plane around the entire globe, it’s pretty advisable to launch a test run or two (or three or 127). Yesterday, a Swiss solar-powered prototype plane called Solar Impulse took its first test run from a Swiss military airport, flying 5500 feet into the air and staying up for about an hour and a half.
Solar Impulse features a commanding wing span of 208 feet and weighs just 3,500 lbs. It uses a combination of four 10 hp electric motors, 12,000 solar cells and rechargeable lithium batteries for flight and carries no fuel. It will reach cruise speeds of 40 to 45 mph. The project, headed by Bertrand Piccard, has been underway for seven years.
According to the Associated Press, the last solar-powered plane to attempt a record run did so from France to England, so circling the globe is an ambitious task. The plan is to attempt the flight around the world in 2012.
Watch clips of the test in the AP video below. [via Wired and AP]