In July of last year, Solar Impulse, the solar-powered airplane that engineers were trying to make fly all the way around the world, ended up stranded in Hawaii for repairs because of electrical failure that caused damage to the power system.
The flight was then delayed until this year because scientists didn’t want to run the risk of flying the solar-powered aircraft into bad weather, and post-August is when weather seems to act up the most.
The damage that occurred affected the batteries on board the solar-powered aircraft and their ability to hold power, so it needed replacements. Scientists also had to wait until the proper weather before they could continue the rest of the journey around the world.
This very weekend, Solar Impulse did just that. During a three-day cruise through the air and powered by 17,000 photovoltaic cells, Solar Impulse has successfully touched down in Silicon Valley, California.
The power failure that occurred last year is a reminder that solar-powered airplanes are not yet ready for the prime time, but after having successfully completed its circuit, Solar Impulse is an inspiration to everyone everywhere that it is indeed possible to fly an airplane by harnessing just the power of the Sun to propel it.
The pilot, Bertrand Piccard, was alone in the cockpit of Solar Impulse, which weighs just 2.3 tons spans 72 meters across and is wider than a 300-ton Boeing 747 jet. On the other hand, its low power consumption also means that Solar Impulse can only travel 70 kilometers per hour and can’t carry as many passengers.
Piccard believes that half a century from now, electric airplanes like Solar Impulse may have the capability to fly up to 50 people at once, reports the BBC.
Solar Impulse will now complete a trip to New York sometime in June, after which it will perform a cross-Atlantic trip to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where it originated from. This will complete the aircraft’s ‘around the world’ circuit.
It will be a huge milestone if the team behind Solar Impulse is able to successfully complete this trip, especially without any more unscheduled repairs.
Source: BBC via Facebook Trending