Sunday, May 30, 2010

Solar-Powered Plane "Solar Impulse" Makes Impressive Debut Flight

On April 7, 2010, the 3,500-pound solar powered airplane "Solar Impulse" took off from a Swiss military airport near the town of Payerne and flew for 90 minutes.

In the history of solar powered flight, this is a highly significant achievement.

12,000 solar cells, 880 pounds of lithium batteries and 4 electric motors of 10 hp each got the plane off the ground and kept it aloft at an altitude of nearly a mile. The solar powered plane took off at just 30 mph, reaching an average cruising speed of 44 mph.

Watch a video of the maiden flight:

And if you think the plane looks too skinny and delicate to inspire confidence about its ability to carry passengers and cargo, remember that the Wright brothers' Flyer looked puny too. But it spawned leviathans like the Antonov An-225 and the Airbus A380.

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