Swiss All-Electric Airplane’s No-Fuel Journey Is to Start Early in May
The Swiss backers of the Solar Impulse all-electric airplane will attempt to cross the U.S. via a series of flights this spring, commencing around May 1 at Moffett Field south of San Francisco.
Solar Impulse is a fully electric carbon fiber airplane with a wingspan of 208 feet and a bank of lithium polymer batteries charged by nearly 12,000 mono-crystalline silicon solar cells – driving four brushless motors providing average power of about 8 horsepower each.
The solar-powered airplane, designated HB-SIA, is slated to depart from NASA’s Moffett Field near San Francisco on or about May 1. Stops are planned in Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta or St. Louis, Washington, D.C., and the mission will end at New York City’s JFK International Airport in July.
“It will be the first time that an airplane, capable of flying 24 hours non-stop day and night ands powered exclusively by solar energy will fly across America,” said Solar Impulse chairman Bertrand Piccard.
“We want to show that with clean technologies, a passionate team and a far-reaching pioneering vision one can achieve the impossible. If we all challenged certitudes by driving change and being pioneers in our everyday lives, we can create innovative solutions for society’s biggest challenges.”
HB-SIA’s first flights took place in 2010, and on July 7, 2010, André Borschberg “made the first night flight in the history of solar aviation,” staying aloft for more than 26 hours. Solar Impulse flew to Brussels and to the Paris Air Show in 2011, and last year made a seven-stage journey to Morocco.
Key Solar Impulse sponsors are Solvay, Schindler, Bayer MaterialScience, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions, SunPower, and the Swiss Confederation.
A second airplane, HB-SIB, with a wingspan of 236 feet, is to fly around the world in 2015. Lithium batteries from Korea’s Kokam are expected to have a 2,000-flight-hour lifetime as compared with 500 hours for HB-SIA.
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Source: Solar Impulse