Tuesday, 30 Jun, 2009 Technology

Solar Impulse - Sun-Powered Plane to Travel Around the World - Finally Built


The first man to make a nonstop trip around the globe in a balloon, Bertrand Piccard, presented the prototype of a solar-powered airplane that is expected to circle around the world. Previously at infoniac.com we wrote about the design of the plane and this time the aircraft has been finally built.

The name of the plane is Solar Impulse, while its technical name is HB-SIA. At the end of 2009 the plane will perform its first test flight. The team of engineers looks forward to perform a test flight that would last two days and one night, the plane being powered only by solar energy. If the test ends up successfully the Solar Impulse will be ready for a trip around the globe.

The materials used to create the airplane include carbon fiber concentrate, which resembles a glider, and 12,000 solar panels that will accumulate excess power in batteries weighting a total of 400kg. The wingspan of the plane is 60 meters. The plane features four 10 horsepower electric motors.

Bertrand Piccard said: "If an aircraft is able to fly day and night without fuel, propelled solely by solar energy, let no one come and claim that it is impossible to do the same thing for motor vehicles, heating and air conditioning systems and computers."

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