With a wingspan longer than Boeing’s 747 jumbo jet, the Solar Impulse 2 took off from its home base in Switzerland on its maiden flight this week. First unveiled to the public in April, the solar-powered craft is set to attempt an around-the-world flight next year.
The Solar Impulse 2 took 50 engineers, 80 technological partners, and 100 technical advisors 12 years to conceptualize, design, and build. All of their work culminated in this week’s two hour-long test flight.
Though not exactly luxurious, the aircraft will have autopilot, a toilet, business-class seats, and space for pilots to lie down on long trips.
Even though it has the wing span of a jumbo jet, the Solar Impulse 2 weighs no more than an average family car.
As long as there is sun, the Solar Impulse 2 can recharge its batteries and stay aloft indefinitely.
In fact, project founders Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg admit that the pilots will be the weakest link on their around the world flight.
The current aircraft is the successor to the Solar Impulse 1, which flew non-stop across America last year in 45 days.
The project's backers claim that the plane's energy management technology can help reduce energy consumption by half if put to daily use.
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