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Published on April 14th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Solar Impulse 2 — More Details

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April 14th, 2014 by
 

Editor’s Note: as a follow-up from my coverage of the Solar Impulse 2 unveiling, which included exclusive videos and an interview with co-founder Bertrand Piccard, below is a Gas2 post with some more technical details. A slideshow from the unveiling and an interview with the other co-founder, André Borschberg, are also on the way. Stay tuned!

Originally published on Gas2.

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The Solar Impulse made some record-breaking flights, and the improved Solar Impulse 2 will try to fly around the world solely on sun power. That’s a tall order and a daring mission for the Swiss designers, and it could usher in a new era of of high-tech flight.

So far, the Solar Impulse crew has completed an intercontinental flight between Spain and Morocco, as well as a cross-continental flight with its journey from Los Angeles to New York City. In total, the first Solar Impulse plane broke eight world records, all without using a single drop of fossil fuel. But the next challenge is a mighty one, travelling all the way around the world using only solar power.

Designers André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard have unveiled a new design with a massive 263-foot wingspan, the same as a Boeing 747. Yet even with that massive wingspan loaded with more than 17,000 monocrystalline silicon solar cells, and more than 2,000 pounds worth of lithium-ion batteries, the entire plane weighs in at just over 5,000 pounds. This allows the 17.5 horsepower to push the Solar Impulse 2 along at a maximum speed of… 35 MPH.

Ahem.

That means that epic journey around the world will take quite some time, requiring Piccard and Borschberg to get comfy in their cozy cabin. Specially-designed seats will serve as cots, work stations and toilets, and an autopilot system will let the Solar Impulse 2 fly for several hours unmanned. But there won’t be a lot of privacy on this long journey, and in the event of an emergency, a small survival kit and life raft will be the pioneers’ only saving grace.

Here’s hoping they don’t have to use them. Their epic journey begins in March 2015, and will hopefully conclude five months later in July. Want more? Check out some exclusive videos over on our sister site CleanTechnica.

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Source | Images: Solar Impulse

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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



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