Solar Plane’s Global Mission

belal-el-atari-solar-impulse-2Two Swiss pilots are attempting the otherwise thought, impossible. The pilots will aim to fly around the world without a single drop of fossil fuel. How will they accomplish this amazing feat you may ask. Allow me to indulge you.

The plane is outfitted with solar technology to eliminate the need for oil, gas, or other forms of fuel. The plane known as “Solar Impulse 2” has 17,248 solar cells that will transfer their collected energy to four electrical motors. These motors are in charge of powering the planes propellers. The battery cells are unique as well. They recharge four lithium polymer batteries to power the plane during flight in the evening. The plane is constructed out of carbon-fiber and weighs about as much as a minivan.

The Specs:

  • Ideal Flight Speed: 25 Knots (Able to double during day when sun is strongest)
  • Altitude: 28,000 feet during day
    • 5,000 feet during night
  • Runners & cyclists will guide the plane during landing and takeoff

The Pioneers:

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will be the two men aboard the Solar Impulse 2. Piccard is the son of Jacques Piccard, the undersea explorer and was the first person to circumnavigate the world via hot air balloon in 1999. Borschberg is the CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse, which began in 2003 with Piccard also at the helm.

Challenges:

Among the technical difficulties the pilots may face, the pair will potentially encounter more trouble on their journey. Both their minds and bodies will be put to the test as the plane travels across the skies. With such a long time seated in an enclosed area, health risks are among some of the top concerns. The two pilots have been preparing their bodies for the journey by practicing yoga and stretches. Other technology will help them rest efficiently and attend to other matters as easily as possible. Weather may also become a factor but due to the variable changes in the weather from minute to minute its impossible to plan too much this far in advance.

The Journey:

Although the flight should only take 25 days the pilots have a scheduled 12 cities to stop in. The stops will be scheduled for meetings and public events with governments and school on the route. After the team departs India they will fly to China and then across the Pacific Ocean. They will land in Hawaii and eventually make it to the United States and stop in Phoenix and New York City. The last legs of the journey include stopping in southern Europe or Morocco and then finishing in Abu Dhabi.

I wish them good luck and great success in their innovative flying endeavor. I will be keeping a close eye on the story as it unfolds from live streams