In Switzerland, an airplane that has solar cells attached to the top of its wings took off earlier today. The hopeful goal is to generate the 1.21 gigawatts of power needed to travel back to the year of 1985. If only they knew exactly when a lighting bolt may strike. Oh wait! That was something else.
[BBC News] An experimental aircraft that draws its power from the sun is making a round-the-clock test flight. The aim is to assess whether the plane can fly in darkness, using solar cells on its wings to generate enough power to stay in the air for 24 hours.
The HB-SIA plane, which took off from Switzerland, has the weight of a family car but the wingspan of a big airliner. The aircraft is to be taken to an altitude of 27,900ft (8,500m) by late Wednesday, when the sun’s rays stop being strong enough to supply the solar cells with energy.
After achieving an amazing speed of 71 MPH (thanks to tailwind), the plane has now been cleared for night flight.
[Wired] The Solar Impulse team has given pilot André Borschberg the thumbs up to fly through the night. The team on the ground has been carefully monitoring the aircraft’s batteries and power usage throughout the day in Switzerland.
With the batteries fully charged, Borschberg is expected to touchdown back at the home airfield in Payerne, Switzerland at dawn on Thursday morning local time.