Sun, Nov 11, 2007
Carbon Fiber, Solar Power And $87.5 Mil For Solar
Circumnavigation in 2011
A pair of Swiss adventurers has unveiled a prototype of carbon
fiber solar-powered airplane they plan to fly around the world in
They are calling it a prototype of Solar Impulse, the 3,000
pound aircraft will have a wingspan similar to that of the Airbus
A-380 but will have airspeed far slower. Floating along at 40
m.p.h. the circumnavigation will take the craft a month to carry
its lone passenger around earth.
The solar cells mounted in the wings will absorb energy for a
maximum seven to eight hours a day because of the angle of the sun.
There will be no need to worry about overcast skies, as the plane's
cruising altitude is set for 42,000 feet.
After sunset it will use batteries for night flight. The Swiss
inventors admit that current battery technology isn't efficient
enough to use, but by 2011 technological changes will make this
possible, according to Solarimpulse.com reports.
Plans are to test-fly the prototype in 2009, with a smaller
wingspan of 197 feet that flies for 36 hours at 27,000 feet. If
there are any doubts they will make it, forget it. They have $87.5
million backing up the project.
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