Record breaking Solar Craft Completes America Trip
The Solar Impulse aircraft has landed at New York’s JFK airport, having finished its extraordinary trip over the United states. This is a first time that a solar-powered airplane able to flying in both day and night has attempted to travel over the United States.
The landing completes the final leg of the Solar Impulse’s over America transcontinental bid, which began in May.
Earlier in its trip, the Solar Impulse airplane broke the flying record for solar-powered flight by staying within the air for a full 18 hrs.
In 2012, the Solar Impulse airplane became the initial solar-powered craft to complete an inter-continental trip.
The record-breaking plane was designed and created by project co-founders (and Impulse co-pilots) Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. The band hope to extol the virtues of renewable energy with their invention.
Piccard and Borshberg are also behind the ‘Clean Generation’ initiative, which is an effort to encourage businesses and governments to increase and take on sustainable energy resources.
The solar impulse HB-SIA has the identical wingspan as the A340 Airbus, but weighs only 1.6 tonnes (by contrast an A340 weighs, on average, about 370 tonnes). The Impulse’s wing and stabiliser are enclosed with around 12,000 solar cells, these drive four propellers and fully charge the lithium-ion batteries for night flying. The craft features a top speed of 70 kph (45mph) plus a maximum cruising height of 8,500m (28,000ft).
Piccard and Borshberg state that their next step is to try a journey round the world, which they hope will begin in 2015. Yet, with a view to realize this, the twosome must develop a bigger airplane, the HB SIB.
United states Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, was present to meet the craft, saying,
“For those who examine the Department of Energy’s research programmes and technology visions, it includes many of this same kind of tech developments that these gentlemen have developed in an integrated system to achieve something that wouldn’t have been considered a few years ago (…) I think in a decade we’re going to see the fruits of most of these technology altering the world.”
Although a rip within the wing, which prompted the pair to scrap their projected Statue of Liberty fly by, the Solar Impulse airplane succeeded in its goals. The craft has smashed records, encouraged better consideration into renewable power and proved to be a flourishing invention. Solar powered passenger jets may yet be a great distance off, however the Solar Impulse airplane proves that the tech is getting there.