A solar-powered plane that developers
hope to eventually pilot around the world has taken off from San
Francisco Bay on the first leg of an attempt to fly across the United
States with no fuel but the sun's energy.
spindly looking plane, dubbed the Solar Impulse, departed shortly after
6 a.m. local time from Moffett Field, a joint civil-military airport
near the south end of San Francisco, heading first to Phoenix on a
slow-speed flight expected to take 19 hours.
Scroll down for video
The Solar Impulse plane, piloted by Bertrand
Piccard of Switzerland, takes off from
Moffett Airfield in Mountain
View, California as it attempts to fly across the United States
We're off! The radical plane leaves the ground
on a multi-city trip across the United States
It will stop for seven to
10 days at major airports in each city
The Solar Impulse is heading first to Phoenix on a slow-speed flight expected to take 19 hours
HOW IT WORKS
The aircraft runs on about the same
power as a motor scooter, propelled by energy collected from 12,000
solar cells built into the wings that simultaneously recharge batteries
with a storage capacity equivalent to a Tesla electric car.
This means the Solar Impulse can fly after dark on solar energy
generated during daylight hours, and will become the first solar-powered
aircraft capable of operating day and night without fuel to attempt a
U.S. coast-to-coast flight.
After additional stops in Dallas, St.
Louis and Washington, D.C., with pauses at each destination to wait for
favorable weather, the flight team hopes to conclude the plane's
cross-country voyage in about two months at John F. Kennedy
International Airport in New York.
Swiss pilots and co-founders
of the project, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, will take turns
flying the plane, built with a single-seat cockpit, with Piccard at the
controls for the first flight to Arizona. He is scheduled to land in
Phoenix at 1 a.m. local time on Saturday.
project began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of 90 million euros ($112
million) and has involved engineers from Swiss escalator maker Schindler
and research aid from Belgian chemicals group Solvay - backers who want
to test new materials and technologies while also gaining brand
Project organizers say the journey is also intended to boost worldwide support for the adoption of clean-energy technologies.
With the wingspan of a jumbo jet and
weighing the same as a small car, the Solar Impulse is a test model for a
more advanced aircraft the team plans to build to circumnavigate the
globe in 2015.
The plane made its first intercontinental flight, from Spain to Morocco, last June.
The Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard, left, enters the cockpit before taking off
Pilots Bertrand Piccard, right, and Andre Borschberg, left shake hands before the Solar Impulse plane takes off
Pilot Bertrand Piccard gives a thumbs up before taking off in the Solar Impulse
solar electric airplane at Moffett Field
YouTube - Videos from this email