Solar Impulse, a solar-powered airplane, finished its trek across the United States yesterday to become the first solar-powered airplane ever to fly coast-to-coast in the U.S. The plane, officially dubbed the Solar Impulse HB-SIA, is powered by more than 11,000 solar panels laid across its 208 foot wingspan. The panels provide power to the plane and charge a battery during the day that takes over at night.
The plane had already completed international and intercontinental trips before flying across the U.S., so its success was hardly in question. It took off on May 3rd from Mountain View, California to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. It completed multiple stretches during the flight and spent a couple weeks at each stop before continuing across the US, stopping in Arizona, Texas, Missouri and Virginia.
Next the team plans to fly across the world on solar-power alone in the HB-SIB. It would be the first solar-powered aircraft to do so and could help bring about a new age in electronically driven aircraft, which could prove more cost effective and environmentally friendly as new technologies continue to surface.
I’m not so sure about how I’d feel about relying on a battery. They tend to fail, and fail for good, in a moment’s notice. But I also feel like they probably have designed around that potential flaw.
Would you be willing to step into a solar-powered vehicle?
Source – The Verge