The two-month, ground-breaking flight started in California and took 14,000 viewers along for the ride in streaming video. The “Clean Generation” initiative flight of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg successfully landed at New York John F. Kennedy International Airport at 11:09 p.m. EDT. Flying across the United States, Solar Impulse was powered only by energy that came from 12,000 solar cells installed on its wings and horizontal stabilizer.Making aviation history, the team of Solar Impulse has come a long way but has even further to go. In 2015, they plan on flying around the world, totally on solar power of course.
The Solar Impulse team will be available to the public at JFK International Airport on Saturday July 13 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday July 14 from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Solar Impulse, the solar airplane that was set to fly across the United States, has taken off and completed the first leg of the journey from California to Arizona. Averaging an altitude of just 10,000 feet and a speed of 40.6 miles per hour, the flight took most of a day to complete. Technically, 14,000 people were on board, albeit virtually via streaming video.
Launching the “Clean Generation” initiative by completing the first leg of their 2013 Across America mission, Pilot Bertrand Piccard took off from Moffett Airfield at NASA’s Ames Research Center early Saturday morning, arriving at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport 18 hours and 18 minutes later.
Promoting greater investment in technologies for sustainable energy production and use, Piccard and Solar Impulse co-founder André Borschberg will alternate flying the five legs of the trip.”We’ve been dreaming about crossing the United States for years – the land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers – and it’s hard to believe it’s really happening.” said Borschberg and Piccard as they walked down the runway in Phoenix.
Coming up in mid-May, the second leg of the journey will fly from Phoenix to Dallas/Fort Worth before continuing on to St Louis then Washington, D.C., before completing the first crossing of the United States by a solar-powered airplane at New York’s JFK airport.
After completing a 26-hour flight in 2010 and going from Switzerland to Morocco completely under solar power last year, the Solar Impulse is set to take on its next challenge later this spring. The high-tech plane, powered completely be the sun, will attempt to fly coast to coast across the U.S. starting in May.
On Thursday, Solar Impulse pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg announced that they will take off from Moffett Air Field at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, on May 1 and intend to head east to New York City. Along the way, they’ll make stops in Phoenix, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and either St. Louis, Nashville or Atlanta. They expect the entire trip will take roughly two months to complete.
The Solar Impulse features a massive wingspan of 208 feet, most of which is covered in solar panels. Energy that is collected through those panels is stored in lithium-polymer batteries, which allow the plane to stay aloft even after the sun goes down. Because of its rather large size, the plane flies at a relative low altitude of just 6000 feet and at a cruising speed of about 43 mph. That may not sound like it’s very fast, but considering the entire aircraft is powered by clean energy, it is still pretty impressive.
Obviously we’re a long way from powering commercial airliners with solar power, but this experimental aircraft is a step in the right direction. If all goes well with this flight, the team intends to attempt a round-the-world flight in 2015.
While Boeing and Airbus scramble to make larger, more luxurious planes, others are pushing the envelope in different directions, attempting to find ways to make them more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Take the Solar Impulse for instance. This plane is setting the bar high, with a plan to circumnavigate the globe completely under solar power.
The Solar Impulse is the brain child of Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss adventurer and environmentalist, who launched the project back in 2003 with the aim of promoting the use of renewable energy sources. Now, in 2009, he is closing in on that dream. His plane has a 200-foot wingspan which is lined with 12,000 photovoltaic solar cells that will draw energy from the sun to power its four engines.
Piccard unveiled the latest design for his plane on June 26th in a ceremony near Zurich. This prototype will undergo test flights in 2010, including night flights using solar power stored in batteries. In 2011 the next design of the plane will be completed, with 2012 set as the tentative start of its world tour. The fact that this plane can fly even at night is one of the the things that separates it from other solar powered aircraft in the past.
While we might be years away from solar power becoming commercially viable for flights, it is projects like these that are paving the way for the future of flight. A future that is clean and environmentally friendly.