Founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg set their goals high, planning to design an airplane that would be able to fly night and day, as well as around the world without any fuel consumption or pollution. Started in 2003, the design went through many stages and challenges. In 2010, a professional test pilot tested the planes ability to fly through the night. The plane took off with partially energized battery storage, gaining solar energy throughout the day, and maintained in the air throughout the night successfully. The round-the-world trip is planned to be tested in 2013.
Solar Impulse is constructed from a carbon fibre skeleton. With a wingspan of 63.4 m, the same as the Airbus A340 wingspan, the wings have photo voltaic cells on the top and lightweight flexible film on the underside. The plane has more than 11,000 solar cells throughout its body that charges the batteries, powering the four 10 HP engines throughout the day and night.
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