Who came up with a solar-powered plane

The project, in which the creation of an aircraft is not an end in itself, started in 2003 with development at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne ( Switzerland) feasibility study. This educational institution continued to be the base for all Solar Impulse Project works, although dozens of European enterprises take part in the project. The initiators and main driving force behind the project are two Swiss aeronautics enthusiasts – psychiatrist Bertrand Piccard and businessman André Borschberg. They also pilot the aircraft, the first version of which – HB-SIA – was first presented to the public in 2006. The

solar-powered apparatus made its first public flight in 2009, and it later set a record of manned flight duration for this class of aircraft. By 2011, the authors of the project created the second version of the aircraft and made a round-the-clock flight on it. All these intermediate stages, including this summer’s flight to Morocco, are preparations for the planned 2014 round-the-world journey of the unique aircraft.

The second variant of the aircraft has a slight overall weight – in fully curb condition and with the pilot on board it is 1600 kg. However, it has very long wings (63.4 m), on the surface of which 200 m² have solar panels. They provide the operation of four screw motors with a capacity of 7.5 kW. In order for the apparatus to fly and in the absence of solar lighting (at night or in clouds), lithium-polymer batteries, which are a quarter of the aircraft’s weight, are used. However, their power is not enough for the dark time of day. Therefore, by the onset of evening the pilots lift the apparatus to a maximum altitude of 12 kilometers and plan several night hours, gradually losing altitude. Then power the electric motors from the batteries, the charge of which is enough until the rise of the free energy source.

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