This is it: solar fully powered aviation has happened. Take a deep breath and say it quick and say it fast:
“The world’s first solar fully powered aeroplane has taken off and cruised for 350 meters before landing again. Its payload was the pilot Markus Scherdel, making it the first ever manned solar powered flight ever.
“Weighing 1600 kilograms, including a 61 meter wingspan and 12,000 photovoltaic cells, Solar Impulse is the pinnacle of uber-cool. Man is no longer….”
And there the test flight finishes. 350 meters isn’t a long way, but in terms of technological achievement is may as well be to Mars and back.
That isn’t quite where this plane is going .. infact in a great demonstration of hyperbole stunting irony, the team have dubbed this maiden flight a “Flea Hop”.
The plane will now be dismantled and taken to Payerne in Switzerland. Progressively longer test flights will take place in 2010 and the team’s ambition remains solar powered circumnavigation of the globe in 2011.
On the first day of Copenhagen-15 (COP15), with winter snow all around, this is the best news you could hope to be reading. Here’s hoping the news will only get better.
In the meantime watch the video below, and let your heart take flight as you see the wheels leave the runway.
Chris is a seasoned sustainability journalist focusing on business, finance and clean technology. His writing's been carried by a number of highly respected publishers, including The Guardian, The Washington Post and Scientific American. You can follow him on twitter as @britesprite, where he's one of Mashable's top green tweeters and Fast Company's CSR thought leaders. Alternatively you can follow him to the shops... but that would be boring.