June 11, 2011

Solar Impulse To Make 2nd International Flight Today

A Swiss solar-powered aircraft will make a second international flight from Brussels to Paris on Saturday, where its creators will show off the aircraft at the 49th international air show at Le Bourget, which runs from June 20 to 26.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA, a lightweight plane with a wingspan the size of a commercial airliner, made history when, in July 2010, became the first manned plane to fly around the clock and throughout the night solely on energy built up from the Sun.

Solar Impulse is expected to lift off between 1200 and 1600 GMT in Brussels and land 10 hours later at Le Bourget near Paris, according to officials on Friday. The plane has had several delays due to unfavorable weather conditions. Rain and strong winds will keep the lightweight aircraft from flight as the maximum wind speed for a safe lift off is seven knots.

Solar Impulse completed its first international flight last month, flying from Switzerland to Belgium.

The craft relies on 12,000 solar cells on its 200-foot wings to charge the batteries to provide enough energy for the 10-horsepower electric motors that drive the four propellers. HB-SIA holds endurance and altitude records for a manned solar-powered airplane after staying aloft for 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds, flying at 30,298 feet.

This next flight is being transmitted live via The Solar Impulse team are aiming to make trans-American, transatlantic and round-the-world flights in 2013 and 2014, and will use a slightly larger aircraft for those flights.