Photovoltaic Flight: The Impulse is here!!

Have you ever wondered how much energy our sun dissipates?

According to the World Book Encyclopedia, about 126 trillion horsepower or 4.7 × 1025 Watt of energy is sent to earth by sun and its benefits are numerous as well which continue to grow as technology advances. It shines for free, the maintenance cost is minimal, no toxins are released and above all it does not harm our mother earth.

Understanding the opportunity scientists in 2009 manufactured a solar-powered airplane called “The Solar Impulse”.

The Solar Impulse also got into books of history as the first solar aircraft to fly through the night in 2010 which was later fine-tuned at the base in Switzerland. Now the presenters are here with a larger and improved version of it called- “The Solar Impulse 2”.

Tech Specs:

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Compared to 68.5m wingspan of Boeing 747-8I, the wings of Si2 are 3.5 metres wider at 72m and the single seater flying machine weights about 2300 kilograms. It is powered by 17,248 solar cells present on its wings that recharge the plane’s batteries, enabling it to fly during the day or night.

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The four rechargeable lithium batteries (17.5 CV each) weights 633 kilograms and plane flies ideally at around 25 knots, or 45 kilometres per hour but has the potential to reach the maximum speed of 90km/hour.

Journey:

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In March 2015, it kicked off its quest to fly around the world in several stages – a journey of about 40,000 kilometres with stops at 12 destinations which has to be completed in 25 days to prove the durability and trustworthiness of solar power carriers.

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Starting from its official host city, Abu Dhabi the journey will move from Asia to China via stops in India and Myanmar. After China the next stop will be 9,500 km distant Hawaii. After three stops within the continental US, the craft will also cross the Atlantic to Europe. Earlier this month Si2 landed in Ahmedabad on March 10 followed by Varanasi and then left for Myanmar this Thursday.

Pilots:

Special vehicles need special riders hence the aircraft is piloted by the Swiss project chairman Bertrand Piccard, who is known for making the first round-the-world balloon flight. Accompanying him is the engineer and CEO André Borschberg, who is a former Swiss Air Force pilot.

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There’s also a test pilot, Markus Scherdel, who helps make sure the Si2 is airworthy.

Message:

The sun generates 10,000 times more energy than the earth needs annually and using this energy does not affect the performance of the sun. So an investment in solar power is surely a clever investment which is needed by mankind.

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While Solar Impulse is an ambitious scientific adventure, the visionary journey is also a message for advancement of clean technology and environmental stewardship. Solar Impulse was not built to carry passengers from point A to point B, but to demonstrate the importance of the emerging spirit, to encourage people to come up with new ways of improving the quality of human life.

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