The Solar Impulse team is attempting to be the first to fly around the globe in a solar plane. The plane Solar Impulse 2 started the journey on March 9. Its first flight was from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, to Muscat, the capital of Oman, The second flight was to Ahmedabad, India, and the next flight will be to Varanasi, India. The plane will make a total of 12 flights around the globe before landing back in Abu Dhabi in about 5 months. Solar Impulse 2 is flown by only one pilot at a time. The two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, will take turns flying the plane.
Solar Impulse 2 weighs as much as a mid-sized car and has the wingspan of a passenger jet. The plane does not use fuel. It has 17,000 solar cells built into its wings that collect energy from the sun. The plane is able to also fly at night, because enough energy is stored for its engines to continue running.
There was a Solar Impulse 1 also. It became the first solar plane to fly through the night (2010). It also flew between two continents from Switzerland to Morocco (2012) and flew across the United States (2013).
You can follow the around-the-world trip here. Here is a time-lapse video showing Solar Impulse 2’s assembly and another showing its test flight.
Did you know?
Bertrand Piccard is the grandson of Auguste Piccard (who designed a balloon and went up thousands of feet into the sky). He is also the son of Jacques Piccard (who designed an underwater vehicle and went down thousands of feet into the ocean).
Did you know?
Jacques Piccard and another explorer, Donald Walsh, were the first people to make a trip to the deepest point on Earth called the Marianas Trench in 1960. The next person to make this trip was James Cameron in 2012.
Image Credits: http://www.solarimpulse.com/ for Solar Impuse 2’s image and the flight path image, http://bertrandpiccard.com/ for Piccard’s image
Sources: http://www.solarimpulse.com/, http://bertrandpiccard.com/, http://www.marianatrench.com/