World's first solar plane successfully soars in sky

nandu

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World's first solar plane successfully soars in sky

At the pace of a fast bicycle, a solar-powered plane took to the skies for its maiden flight, passing an important test on the way to a historic voyage around the world, a journey that would not use a drop of fuel.

The Solar Impulse lifted off from a military airport Wednesday at a speed no faster than 45 kph after briefly accelerating down the runway. It slowly gained altitude above the green-and-beige fields and eventually faded into the horizon as villagers watched from the nearest hills.

“There has never been an airplane of that kind that could fly, never an airplane so big, so light, using so little energy. So there were huge question marks for us,” said Bertrand Piccard, who is leading the project. In 1999, he co-piloted the first nonstop round-the-world balloon flight.

During Wednesday’s 90-minute flight, the plane completed a series of turns by gently tilting its black-and-white wings, which are as wide as those of a 747 jumbo jet. It climbed nearly a mile above the Swiss countryside. The weather was sunny, and there was little wind, obvious advantages for a plane so light and dependent on the sun.

Engineers on the US$93.5 million project have been conducting short tests since December, taking the plane no higher than 0.6 meters and flying no more than 300 meters in distance.

http://www.brahmand.com/news/Worlds-first-solar-plane-successfully-soars-in-sky/3580/1/11.html
 

nandu

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Swiss solar plane marks 24 hours in the air


The solar powered Aircraft "Solar Impulse" (HB-SIA prototype) stands in the hangar in Payerne, Switzerland, on July 1, 2010.

The Swiss team behind an experimental solar-powered plane says it has remained aloft for a record 24 hours.

Engineers in the Solar Impulse control room and pilot Andre Borschberg cheered loudly as the plane passed the historic milestone shortly before 7 a.m. Thursday.

The team is now preparing to land the 207-foot wingspan aircraft at Payerne airfield about 50 km southwest of the Swiss capital Bern.

The prototype plane is studded with 12,000 solar cells that managed to store enough energy during the day to last through the night.

The team's ultimate goal is to fly an improved version of the aircraft around the world in five stages in 2013.

http://thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/article505898.ece
 

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