Solar Plane To Circumnavigate The World (Very Slowly)
In the news this week is the unveiling of a prototype of Solar Impulse, a carbon fiber solar-powered airplane that two Swiss thrill-seekers plan to fly around the world in 2011.
The 3000-pound aircraft will have a wingspan that’s about the same as the Airbus A380, but instead of streaking around the globe at 560 mph, this one will poke along at a mere 40 mph. At that rate, it’ll take four weeks for it to carry its single passenger all the way around the planet…The solar cells on the wings will suck up power for a maximum seven to eight hours a day because of the angle of the sun. The pilot won’t have to worry about clouds, though, because the plane will cruise at 42,000 feet. After sunset, the plane’s designers hope batteries will power the plane through the night.