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The Solar Impulse airplane has landed at New York’s JFK airport, having done its remarkable journey over the United states. This is a first time that a solar-driven airplane able to flying in both day and night has tried to fly across the US.
The landing completes the ultimate leg of that Solar Impulse’s across America transcontinental bid, which started in May.
Earlier in its journey, the Solar Impulse airplane broke the distance record for solar-powered travel by staying in the air for a full eighteen hrs.
In 2012, the Solar Impulse airplane became the initial solar-powered craft to complete an inter-continental flight.
The record-breaking plane was designed and manufactured by project co-founders (and Impulse co-pilots) Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. The band expect to praise the virtues of renewable power with their creation.
Piccard and Borshberg are also behind the ‘Clean Generation’ initiative, that’s an endeavor to encourage organisations and governments to increase and take on sustainable energy resources.
The solar impulse HB-SIA has the same wingspan as the A340 Airbus, but weighs only 1.6 tonnes (by comparison an A340 weighs, on standard, about 370 tonnes). The Impulse’s wing and stabiliser are enclosed with some 12,000 solar cells, these drive 4 propellers and completely charge the lithium-ion batteries for night flying. The craft features a high speed of 70 kph (45mph) plus a maximum cruising altitude of 8,500m (28,000ft).
Piccard and Borshberg say that their next step is to attempt a journey round the planet, which they expect will start in 2015. However, with a view to achieve this, the pair must develop a much bigger plane, the HB SIB.
US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, was there to greet the craft, saying,
“If you examine the Department of Energy’s research programmes and tech visions, it includes many of the same type of tech progress that these gentlemen have developed in an integrated system to accomplish something that would not have been thought of a couple of years ago (…) I think in 10 years we’re going to find the fruits of most of these technologies varying the world.”
In spite of a rip within the wing, which resulted in the pair to cancel their projected Statue of Liberty fly by, the Solar Impulse plane succeeded in its aims. The plane has broken records, encouraged augmented consideration into renewable energy and proved to be a flourishing invention. Solar powered passenger jets may yet be a good distance off, but the Solar Impulse airplane proves the tech is getting there.