Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Solar Impulse

New Scientist reports: [edited]

A solar-powered aircraft has this week been plying the skies around Moffett Field in San Francisco, California, as its inventors rehearse for their next ambitious move: a coast-to-coast sunshine-fuelled flight across the US.

The latest design of the 80-metre-wingspan plane, which has 12,000 photovoltaic cells peppered all over its wings and tailplane, charges batteries that power four electric motors. It manages a speed of just 64 kilometres per hour so, although it can stay aloft for 36 hours, it cannot manage the coast-to-coast trip in one hop. It will stop over a number of times: at Phoenix, Arizona; at Dallas, Texas; at St Louis, Missouri (or Atlanta, Georgia); and at Washington DC en route to New York City.

Weather permitting, the coast-to-coast attempt should depart from Moffett Field on 1 May - with a round-the-world attempt slated for 2015.

Image: J. Revillard/Solar Impulse

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