HOUSTON: It is a big era of technologies. New technologies are being invented and developed at every moment. Such an unbelievable technology has been coined recently. A first of its kind ultra-lightweight solar plane powered completely by the sun is set to fly coast-to-coast this spring. The Solar Impulse plane will stop in Dallas city in Texas during its historic cross-country journey that begins on May 1, its creators announced today.
This extraordinary solar plane requires zero fuel and relies solely on solar panels and battery power. It is going to be the world’s first plane powered purely by solar energy. The US flight is the latest step towards the ultimate goal of Solar Impulse team; that of making a flight around the world by 2015.
The two Swiss pilots of the solar plane, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, want to complete a flight from Moffett Field to New York City, after doing a plucky job and spending 10 years designing it. It is expected to arrive in the Big Apple by early July and will stop in Phoenix (Arizona), Dallas-Ft. Worth, Washington DC and either Nashville (Tennessee), Atlanta (Georgia) or St. Louis along the way.
“It carries only one pilot and no passengers, but it carries a lot of message,” Piccard said. “Today we can’t imagine having a solar plane with 200 passengers. But in 1903 it was exactly the same,” he said, noting the sense of impossibility that surrounded the first airplane flight that took place that year.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, but we have to start and see where technology takes us,” he said.
The plane uses creative engineering and physics to harness the sun’s energy for power even after the sun sets. It has a wingspan equivalent to a 747 jetliner, the weight of a station-wagon, and the power needs of a small scooter. It has the solar panels across its wings which is specially designed to harness power from the sun during the day and lithium-polymer batteries store that energy for overnight trips.
A carbon-fibre material formed in a honeycomb structure makes up the bulk of the plane, which allows for its feather-weight.
In 2010, the Solar Impulse plane completed a 26-hour overnight flight and in 2012 flew from Switzerland to Morocco without any fuel. To fly around the world, the team needs to fly for five days continuously, which the current plane isn’t equipped for. They would also need to find more efficient batteries and motors, as well as improve the plane’s reliability, Borschberg said.
“You have no time to do maintenance and no possibility to change parts,” he said of an around-the-world trip. On the other hand, Piccard is also well known for his flying adventures. He travelled around the world in a hot air balloon in 1999.
It would be interesting to see this solar plane flying in the air. If this experiment prove to be successful then it can bring a revolution in the technologies and will insist to dominate the old technologies being used.
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