We’ve written about the Solar Impulse airplane here on Cleantechnica before. It is a completely solar-powered plane built in Switzerland. Not long after taking its first flight (in December, 2009) the plane has now just set a new record by being the first solar-powered plane to fly for 24 hours straight.
“The plane, piloted by Solar Impulse chief executive and former fighter jet pilot Andre Borschberg, landed at the Payerne airbase in Switzerland at 9am local time, having flown through the night using power stored in the aircraft’s batteries,” Business Green reports.
The plane had 3 hours worth of battery power left when it landed, more than the Solar Impulse team expected.
In addition to being the first solar-powered plane to fly for 24 hours straight, it also broke the altitude record for solar-powered aircraft, flying as high as 8,500 meters (27,887 feet).
The Solar Impulse team’s next goal is to fly around the world in 2013. It is starting work on a new version of the plane for that.
I think this is one huge step for solar technology, in general. It is a sign of how far we’ve come as well as a taste of how much solar enery potential there is.
Although many engineers don’t think solar-powered planes will ever replace standard commercial-scale aircraft, I have my hopes and would love to fly in one such plane one day.
Photo Credit: Deutsche Bank AG via flickr/CC license
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