Solar Plane Will Circumnavigate Earth in 2015

Solar Plane Will Circumnavigate Earth in 2015 in Time Mag April 9 2014 posted April 10 2014

The co-founders behind the newly unveiled Solar Impulse 2 say the jet will be able to circle the planet in a three-month trip planned for next using only solar power, but now they just need to “develop a sustainable pilot”

A new airplane was unveiled in Switzerland on Wednesday that its builder hopes will fly all the way around the earth using only solar power in 2015.

The Solar Impulse 2 has a 236-foot wingspan—longer than a Boeing 747—covered in 17,248 solar cells that power four electric motors, which in turn drive the plane’s propellers.

Weighing in at 5,000 pounds, the Solar Impulse will ferry just one pilot at a time and not much else at a top speed of 87 mph. To cross the vast Atlantic and Pacific oceans, the plane will have to stay airborne for at least five days at a time, gaining altitude during the day when the sun is out and slowly descending about 5,000 feet in the evening when it’s dark. . . .