Magazine

Mar 9, 2015

Solar Impulse Takes Off

Solar Impulse Takes Off

The first attempt to send a solar-powered aircraft around the world started in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft took off for a 400 km flight down the coast of the Persian Gulf, with Oman being its intended destination. Solar Impulse's new solar plane can fly up to 5 days straight.
The flight is the first leg in a series of flights that will last most of the year. Many of the initial flights will be relatively short as it moves across Asia to China via stops in India and Myanmar. The biggest challenges there will likely involve the logistics of moving the aircraft's support crews to each location. From China, however, things get challenging, as the next stop is Hawaii—roughly 9,500 km distant. After three stops within the continental US, the craft will also cross the Atlantic to Europe. This will put the aircraft and its pilots, André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, to a rather significant test, given the slow speed of forward progress generated by the craft's electric engines. The huge size of Solar Impulse 2, its wingspan is bigger than a 747's, is primarily to support carrying food, expanded batteries, oxygen and toilet systems, as well as the space required to let the pilot lie down and sleep.

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, flies over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi HANDOUT/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, flies over the landscape of Abu Dhabi HANDOUT/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, flies over the landscape of Abu Dhabi HANDOUT/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, flies over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi HANDOUT/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered plane, flies over the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi HANDOUT/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 takes off at airport in Abu Dhabi, at the start of an attempt to fly around the world in the solar-powered plane AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 takes off at airport in Abu Dhabi, at the start of an attempt to fly around the world in the solar-powered planept to fly around the world without a drop of fue AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 takes off at airport in Abu Dhabi, at the start of an attempt to fly around the world in the solar-powered plane AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 prepares to take off at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 prepares to take off at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Borschberg and Piccard pose for the camera before flying the Solar Impulse 2, at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhab AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 takes off at airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Borschberg (R) and Piccard get ready to fly the Solar Impulse 2 at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 takes off at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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The Solar Impulse 2 prepares to take off at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Borschberg smiles with Piccard before flying the Solar Impulse 2, at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/Reuters

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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A view of the Solar Impulse 2 on flight after taking off from Al Bateen Airport in United Arab Emirates HANDOUT/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Solar Impulse 2 is seen on flight after taking off at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Borschberg and Piccard smile before flying the Solar Impulse 2, at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Borschberg and Piccard check the time before flying the Solar Impulse 2, at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

Solar Impulse Takes Off
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Solar Impulse 2 is seen on flight after taking off at Al Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi AHMED JADALLAH/REUTERS

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