The Solar Impulse 2, a solar powered plane successfully completed its inaugural flight on June 2 from an Swiss air base.
This experimental, single-seater aircraft flew for 2 hrs and 17 minutes before landing successfully. It was the first of several test flights the Solar Impulse 2 team will conduct in coming months to earn certification for the experimental machine.
Flying with no fuel day and night, it is the first aircraft to have almost unlimited endurance.
The Solar Impulse 2 is a larger and upgraded version of the aircraft that flew across the United States from San Francisco to New York City last year. It has been upgraded with new technology to make it more efficient and reliable.
- The carbon-fiber aircraft has a 72 meter wingspan, which is wider than a Boeing 747 jet, yet the airplane weighs just 2.3 tons. That’s about the same as a Ford Fiesta sedan.
- The wings are covered by 17,000 solar cells which supply renewable energy to its four electric motors.
- Its top speed is just 140km/h (90mph) with a small single-person cockpit.
- During the day, the solar cells will recharge lithium batteries, which can then be used to keep the plane flying through the night.
The company’s goal is to take the Solar Impulse 2 on a round-the-world journey in 2015.