In a world focused more and more on alternative energy and means of powering up all sorts of machines to run on solar power, a solar powered airplane is not either a surprise, or a novelty. A team from Switzerland has been working on a solar powered plane for about five years now, coming up with a prototype that was able to fly in the middle of the night, between two continents, and across the United States, according to the team’s reports. But recently, the same people responsible for the first Solar Impulse plane have unveiled Solar Impulse 2, an upgraded version which they intend to keep in the air for an indefinite amount of time.
The new cutting – edge solar powered plane represents a true breakthrough in the industry of clean energy – powered machines, pushing the world closer to the goal of saving energy. The new aircraft version was presented at the Payerne Air Force Base in Switzerland and the specialists emphasized on the upgrades they achieved from the previous model: Solar Impulse 2 comes with 7,200 solar cells distributed on the immense wings of the aircraft, thus being able to store the solar energy more efficiently. The plane is as light as a car, measuring in weight only 2.3 metric tons (2.54 tons), while its wing span is now 8 meters longer compared with the first prototype and, according to experts, even longer than the wings of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet: 72 meters (236 feet).
The airplane reaches slow speeds, but next year, the team plans to take a trip around the world in their brand new solar powered plane. The trip will be made in several stages, but the essential feature of it is that it will be able to stay up in the air for several days in a row, while it covers the transoceanic distances. All in all, the pilots involved in the project estimate that the trip will encompass an average of 20 flying days spread on a time – span of several months. The technology and research behind this solar powered airplane is supported by more than 80 specialized companies, and if all things work well, we will be the witnesses of a new era in using clean energy even for flying and not just for driving.