Thursday, April 25, 2013

Solar Impulse Airplane Prepares for Cross-Country Sun-Powered Flight

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The Solar Impulse HB-SIA flying over the Golden Gate Bridge this week.

What do you get when you build an airplane with a battery pack the size of the Tesla Model S, and a solar panel array 10 times bigger than ones found on most homes? Answer: The Solar Impulse, a prototype solar-powered airplane designed to to make an around-the-world flight in 2015. This month, the Solar Impulse is at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, getting prepped for a flight across the U.S. beginning on May 1.

The Solar Impulse is the brainchild of Bertrand Picard, the psychiatrist and adventurer who flew a balloon, the Breitling Orbiter, around the world in 1999. After that flight, he developed the idea of using renewable energy to power an airplane for a flight around the world, and rolled up his sleeves to make it happen. He formed a brave team that when told by aircraft manufacturers that the idea was impossible, went ahead anyway.

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