Solar Impulse Completes Night Flight

Solar Impulse, the four-engine solar-powered Swiss plane, completed a 26 hour flight. Pilot Andre Borschberg flew the craft to an altitude of 8,654 meters while achieving a top ground speed of 68 knots.


(Solar Impulse lands after 26 hours)

Solar Impulse's 12,000 solar panels cover its 64 meter wingspan; approximately one-quarter of the weight of the plane is accounted for by the lithium batteries that powered it at night.

The Solar Impulse thus solved a problem with solar-powered aircraft described by far-seeing sf author and editor John W. Campbell in his 1930 novel The Black Star Passes:

"Dad, I believe that you have been trying to develop a successful solar engine. One that could be placed in the wings of a plane to generate power from the light falling on that surface..."

"...the one big trouble with all solar engines, eliminating the obvious restriction that they decidedly aren't dependable for night work, is the difficulty of getting an area to absorb the energy.

Thanks to Fortigurn for pointing out this story.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/11/2010)

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