Solar Impulse, a sun-powered plane, heading to Africa

by Sara Pernas

The experimental sun-powered Solar Impulse airplane departed from the Swiss airfield of Payerne last night piloted by Andre Borschberg, on its first attempted intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco.

Solar Impulse is expected to land in Madrid before heading to Morocco without using any fuel. Once in Morocco, where it’s said the launch of construction on the largest ever solar thermal plant it’s likely to start coinciding with the end of the trip, Solar Impulse will be hosted by the Moroccan Agency for Solar Energy (MASEN), whose mission is to develop the Moroccan solar energy plan, to provide the country with a competitive industrial profile in the renewables sector.

This innovative energy efficient plane has around 12,000 solar cells, lithium batteries powering four engines, and a wingspan about that of an Airbus 340. After the 72 hours flight in a solar energy driven aircraft simulation they completed in February, this is another trial before the round-the-world solar energy powered flight, now under construction and scheduled for 2014. In addition, If successful it will be the longest journey to date for the craft after an inaugural flight to Paris and Brussels last year.

Sponsors of the 100 million-franc (around £74 million) project to fly day and night using no fuel include Deutsche Bank AG, Solvay SA of Belgium, Schindler Holding AG and Swatch Group’s Omega brand.

Watch it live here or visit their website to have more detailed information about this exciting initiative!

Via Bloomberg and AFP.

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72 hours flight in a solar energy driven aircraft simulator

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