We’ve all heard of the benefits of solar power and the emergence of innovative new projects that are making use of the sun’s energy. But one is soaring above the rest of them – a solar-powered plane attempting to fly round the world!
Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates early on Monday morning and has already completed its first 250-mile (400km) leg, landing in the Omani capital of Muscat. It’s now on its way to India.
Two pilots are attempting the potentially record-breaking voyage. The journey will take several months to complete, and if successful the plane will be the first to fly round the world without any fuel.
Solar Impulse founders André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard will take it in turns to fly the plane, swapping at each stop. Their 5,000 km (22,000 miles) journey has been organized to garner international attention on sustainable energy.
After stopping in India, the plane will head to Myanmar and China before flying over the Pacific Ocean and across the United States and southern Europe to eventually arrive back in Abu Dhabi in approximately five months.
The plane weighs around the same size as a family car (2,300 kg, 5,100 pounds,) yet it actually has a wingspan as wide as the largest passenger airliner.
The Solar Impulse website states that: “Solar Impulse wants to mobilize public enthusiasm in favor of technologies that will allow decreased dependence on fossil fuels, and induce positive emotions about renewable energies.” Well, they’ve got off to a flying that with that!
The project has been over 12 years in the making, with research, tests and development. The Solar Impulse team is made up of around 90 people, including engineers, technicians and mission controllers. It also has about 100 partners and advisers to advise on the project, financially and technologically.
Images courtesy of solarimpulse.com