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Solar Plane Takes Off on Historic Coast-to-Coast Flight

Science & Tech  (tags: concept, design, discovery, energy, investigation, NewTechnology, research, scientists, solar plane )

- 1841 days ago -
A solar-powered airplane that can fly day and night without using a single drop of fuel embarked on an unprecedented flight across the United States today (May 3).

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Kit B (276)
Friday May 3, 2013, 8:48 pm
Solar Impulse flies over the runway at Moffett Airfield in California shortly after takeoff on May 3, 2013.
CREDIT: Solar Impulse

A solar-powered airplane that can fly day and night without using a single drop of fuel embarked on an unprecedented flight across the United States today (May 3).

The solar-powered aircraft, named Solar Impulse, took off from Moffett Airfield near San Francisco, Calif., shortly after 9:00 a.m. EDT (6:00 a.m. PDT). The plane will now head south on the first 19-hour leg of its journey, and is expected to touch down at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday (May 4) at 4:00 a.m. EDT (1:00 a.m. PDT).

Solar Impulse is the first aircraft capable of flying day and night without using any fuel. The plane relies solely on its solar panels and onboard batteries for power. During today's flight, the aircraft is expected to reach a cruising altitude of 21,000 feet (6,400 meters).

Solar Impulse founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will alternate piloting the single-seater plane over the five legs of the journey. Piccard was at the controls for today's takeoff from California.

This morning's flight was slightly delayed, as officials in the Solar Impulse "mission control center" in Switzerland reviewed final details of the flight plan with air traffic controllers in California. After several quick discussions, Solar Impulse received the go-ahead for the first part of its historic journey.

"Solar Impulse, you are clear to proceed. Have a nice flight," flight controllers radioed to Piccard in the cockpit shortly before takeoff.

In mid-May, the ultra-lightweight plane will begin the second leg of its trip, taking off in Phoenix and landing in Dallas, Texas. Toward the end of May, Solar Impulse will depart for St. Louis, Mo.; the fourth leg will take the plane from St. Louis to Washington, D.C.; and the fifth and last leg will end in New York City in late June or early July.

Each leg of the expedition will be streamed live on Solar Impulse's website. The live feed will feature information on the airplane's position, altitude and speed, as well as camera views from inside the cockpit and Solar Impulse's mission control center.

The Solar Impulse aircraft weighs about the same as a station wagon, and its solar panel-covered wings are roughly the same length as a 747 jetliner. Solar Impulse generates about the same amount of power as a small scooter, company officials have said.

The unprecedented coast-to-coast flight is designed to demonstrate the potential for "clean technologies" as viable and efficient sources of renewable energy.

While commercial flights aboard solar-powered airplanes may still be decades into the future, the Solar Impulse journey may one day serve as a model for sustainable air travel.

The coast-to-coast expedition will also launch an initiative called "Clean Generation," which aims to promote the use of clean technologies around the globe. The program seeks to "encourage governments, businesses and decision-makers to push for the adoption of clean technologies and sustainable energy solutions," Solar Impulse officials said in a statement.

Other supporters of the Clean Generation Initiative include Hollywood director James Cameron, former Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin, environmentalist and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, and British entrepreneur Richard Branson.

These and other supporters of the initiative will be able to add their names to a list that will be carried in the cockpit of the Solar Impulse plane, signifying them as virtual passengers on the journey. In the stopover cities throughout the trip, more names will be added, company officials said.

In 2010, the Solar Impulse plane successfully completed a 26-hour overnight flight, followed by a flight from Switzerland to Morocco in 2012. Solar Impulse's founders eventually plan to circumnavigate the world in the solar-powered plane.
***More Photos at VISIT SITE***

By: Denise Chow | Staff Writer | Live Science |

Debbie G (306)
Friday May 3, 2013, 8:51 pm
I'm excited about this. This solar plane will stop at Lambert Field in St. Louis and be on display. I want to see it fly. Good technology for the future!

JL A (281)
Friday May 3, 2013, 9:04 pm
Could be the future of transport--including what is now ground (size of a station wagon). Wonder how green the batteries are...

Joanne S (0)
Friday May 3, 2013, 11:42 pm
Awesome news!

Kerrie G (116)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 7:33 am
That's fantastic! Noted, thanks.

Jae A (316)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 8:56 am
Just think of how far the U.S> could be in this field if they weren;t so G.D. busy financing corporate wars for huge profits for a few people instead of advancing solar and other green tecknowledgy. That being said....this is all so do-able.... if only more nations would get on the band wagon and work together for the future of the entire world via projects like this it could all happen in a very short period of time instead of decades for each step of the way...

Kit B (276)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 9:55 am

So true, Jae. Every decision seems to be filtered through the "too big to fail" oligarchs.

Birgit W (160)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 1:30 pm

Lois Jordan (63)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 2:44 pm
Noted. Very interesting! Thanks for posting, Kit.

Bryna Pizzo (139)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 2:54 pm
Thank you! This is fantastic! (n, p, t)

pam w (139)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 3:26 pm

Robert Tomlinson (62)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 4:41 pm
I saw this on NBC News. Thanks for sharing this.

Judy C (97)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 6:43 pm
This is really exciting. I hope all goes well with the rest of the test flights.

I also liked this:

"The coast-to-coast expedition will also launch an initiative called "Clean Generation," which aims to promote the use of clean technologies around the globe. The program seeks to 'encourage governments, businesses and decision-makers to push for the adoption of clean technologies and sustainable energy solutions,' Solar Impulse officials said in a statement."

The public need to hear that clean technologies are the wave of the future.

Kit B (276)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 6:54 pm

I think this is very cool and in it's own way as exciting as missions to the moon. If we are to have a future and I think we are, then it must be built with clean technologies and an ever cautious eye to the future for everything we do from now on. We have been greedy and sloppy with our planet, our own habitats and wasteful of life.

Sheryl G (363)
Saturday May 4, 2013, 6:54 pm
I saw this on TV last night and cool. Yes, Jae, that is exactly what was being said in the story I also put on today. Link below.
It's Happening Now

Sherri G (128)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 1:48 am
Wow Kit Thanks For This Article. I live within 30 miles of Moffett Field and my Dad flew in and out of there while he was in the Navy. Yet, we haven't had any of this make news locally. What's up with that? Solar powered airplanes wouldn't that be wonderful. I doubt if it will be in my lifetime but it gives me hope for clean air technology. Can't send another star but thank you.

Christeen A (368)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 2:00 am
This is amazing and possibly our future in this field. Thank you for sharing.

. (0)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 5:02 am
Great article, Kit. Thanks for sharing.

Jaime Alves (52)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 6:36 am
Noted, thanks.

Inge B (202)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 9:51 am
The future is full of hope

Theodore Shayne (56)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 10:10 am
Noted & posted

S S (0)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 11:13 am
Thank you.

Lynne Buckley (0)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 12:26 pm
Good news. Thanks for posting

Kathleen R (138)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 12:43 pm
noted & shared

Judith Hand (55)
Sunday May 5, 2013, 5:13 pm
Noted. Fabulous!

Robert O (12)
Tuesday May 7, 2013, 11:40 am
That's pretty cool. A glimpse of the future perhaps? Thanks Kit.

Constance F (418)
Tuesday May 7, 2013, 8:30 pm
yes ! that is certainly very cool ! thank you for posting this - I hadn't a clue. Very exciting prospect and implications for the future.

Munro Tapper (80)
Wednesday May 8, 2013, 7:43 pm
Most interesting. Noted with glee. Thanks.

Sergio Padilla (65)
Monday May 13, 2013, 2:49 pm

Klaus Peters (14)
Thursday May 23, 2013, 9:04 am
An experiment with a great future.

Jae A (316)
Saturday May 25, 2013, 3:25 pm
Now this is one new beginning to what we can only hope will be the standard in the very near future of aircraft . Very exciting indeed !

pam w (139)
Saturday May 25, 2013, 6:16 pm
YES, PLEASE! I'll buy a ticket!

P A (117)
Sunday May 26, 2013, 5:49 am
Fascinating - the more the merrier! Thanks Kit.

Dee C (229)
Sunday May 26, 2013, 6:55 am
I was watching a program on this..What exciting and positive news this is..Just hope they keep going with it..
Thanks Kit..
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