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Solar Impulse Makes First International Flight

Solar Impulse completes first solar-powered international flight over Europe into Belgium on Friday on its first international flight with the pilot reporting that everything was running smoothly.After a flight lasting 12 hours 59 minutes, using no fuel and propelled by solar power alone, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA landed safely with pilot André Borschberg at the controls and a larger prototype planned to make a non-stop round-the-world flight in 2013………

 

Pioneering Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse has landed in Brussels after completing its first international flight, 13 hours after it took off from Switzerland and this  aircraft, which has more 12,000 solar cells covering its 200-foot-long wings, took off at 8:40 local time, rose to an altitude of 12,400 feet and touched down at 21:38 (3:38 PM EDT).In an interview after the landing, Solar Impulse co-founder, Bertrand Piccard said, “Our goal is to create a revolution in the minds of the people . . . to promote solar energies — not necessarily a revolution in aviation.”The Solar Impulse has the wingspan of a jumbo jet (63.4 meters, 208 feet) but weighs about the same as a Honda Accord (1,600 kg, 3527 lbs). The $88 million project has been funded by mostly-Swiss partners and public donations.“Compared with 2003, energy efficiency has increased from 16 to 22 percent,” said Piccard. “And the cells are now half as thick.”The ultra-thin solar cells only 150 microns thick were developed by leading solar manufacturer SunPower and scientists at Neuchâtel University. The long wings of the Solar Impulse are covered with a skin of 12,000 silicon solar cells.Swiss chemical giant Solvay worked with South Korean-based Kokam to produce a new lithium polymer battery with an energy density nearly double the previous form.

 

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