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Solar Energy solar-powered-flight

Published on December 7th, 2009 | by Chris Milton

16

The Solar Powered Plane : It Flies!

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December 7th, 2009 by
 
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.

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About the Author

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.



  • Joseph A Nagy Jr

    While it may be the first /manned/ flight, it’s definitely nowhere close to being the first solar powered flight.

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-054-DFRC.html

    http://www.pvresources.com/en/helios.php

  • Joseph A Nagy Jr

    While it may be the first /manned/ flight, it’s definitely nowhere close to being the first solar powered flight.

    http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-054-DFRC.html

    http://www.pvresources.com/en/helios.php

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for your thoughts Louis. Can you please expand about solar powered balloons?

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for your thoughts Louis. Can you please expand about solar powered balloons?

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for your thoughts Louis. Can you please expand about solar powered balloons?

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for your thoughts Louis. Can you please expand about solar powered balloons?

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for your thoughts Louis. Can you please expand about solar powered balloons?

  • Louis Moore

    Solar powered circumnavigation is accomplished everyday with satelites and balloons. Wings are obsolete.

  • Louis Moore

    Solar powered circumnavigation is accomplished everyday with satelites and balloons. Wings are obsolete.

  • Louis Moore

    Solar powered circumnavigation is accomplished everyday with satelites and balloons. Wings are obsolete.

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for pulling me up on that Paul! I had always considered Sunseeker more a glider than a fully powered plane, but I don’t want to get into splitting hairs.

    I’ve tweaked the post to try and make this point a little clearer :)

  • http://www.britesprite.co.uk Chris Milton

    Thank you for pulling me up on that Paul! I had always considered Sunseeker more a glider than a fully powered plane, but I don’t want to get into splitting hairs.

    I’ve tweaked the post to try and make this point a little clearer :)

  • Paul

    Not ‘QUITE’ the first manned solar powered flight!

    http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-hybrid-aircraft-sunseeker-ii/11121/

  • Paul

    Not ‘QUITE’ the first manned solar powered flight!

    http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-hybrid-aircraft-sunseeker-ii/11121/

  • Paul

    Not ‘QUITE’ the first manned solar powered flight!

    http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-hybrid-aircraft-sunseeker-ii/11121/

  • Paul

    Not ‘QUITE’ the first manned solar powered flight!

    http://www.gizmag.com/solar-powered-hybrid-aircraft-sunseeker-ii/11121/

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