Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Bertrand Piccard's Solar Aircraft

Since 2003, Bertrand Piccard of Switzerland has been developing an unprecedented aircraft, the Solar Impulse. With the wingspan of a Boeing 747-400 and the weight of an average family car, it's 12,000 solar cells will provide power day and night. The plane's mission is to demonstrate the feasibility of a complete day-night-day cycle propelled solely by solar energy. After fine-tuning on the ground, the aircraft should make its first test flights between now and the end of 2009, at Dübendorf airport (by Zurich) and then from Payerne air base in Switzerland. A first complete night flight is scheduled for 2010.
The results from the flights and their analysis will serve to develop and build a second aircraft, the HB-SIB for circumnavigating the world in five stages, each lasting several days, in 2012.

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