Solar-powered plane makes first flight

by Anne-Francoise PELE , TechOnline India - June 15, 2011

The prototype manned solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse, landed safely in Brussels, Belgium

The prototype manned solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse, landed safely in
Brussels, Belgium, on May 13. The flight lasted 12 hours 59 minutes, using no

fuel and propelled by solar energy alone.

Flown by pilot Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse took off from its home base at Payerne Airfield, in Switzerland, at 8:40 a.m., slightly later than planned due to foggy weather conditions. Climbing to an altitude of more than 3,800 meters (approximately 12,467 feet, or 2.36 miles), the plane headed toward France and Luxembourg, and landed in Brussels airport at 9:38 p.m. The plane was originally due to land at 9 p.m.

The aircraft has been designed to demonstrate solar technology by flying continuously day and night on solar power and solar energy stored in its batteries. Carbon fiber structure, propulsion chain, flight instrumentation, everything has been designed to save energy, to resist the hostile conditions facing airplane and pilot at high altitudes and to marry weight restraints and essential resistance.

Solar Impulse technical information:

Wingspan: 63,40 m
Length: 21,85 m
Height: 6,40 m
Weight: 1 600 Kg
Motor power: 4 x 10 HP electric engines
Solar cells: 11 628 (10 748 on the wing, 880 on the horizontal stabilizer)
Average flying speed: 70 km/h
Take-off speed: 35 km/h

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