This isn’t car worthy news per se, but it is certainly of interest to any gear-head out there who appreciates a good story and a properly engineered machine. The Solar Impulse 2 embodies the definition of perseverance.
Tuesday 6:35 am (02:35 GMT) marked the beginning of a 1,465 kilometres flight that would last 16 hours in a journey from the Arabian Sea to the Ahmedabad airport in India. This is an accomplishment that would make the Solar Impulse 2 that first solar-powered plane to fly around the world, which would also make it a true test of endurance for both the pilot and the airplane components.
The Solar Impulse 2 will fly from Abudhabi and around the world passing through 12 landing points, with some lasting up to 5 days and nights. While the Solar Impluse 2 will be followed by two other normal airplanes which include a team of 60 people from 10 countries including an Emerati young man “Hassan Alredaini”. The team who worked on the SI2 gathered more than 80 experts, 90 partners, 100 constultants, 90 governments and officials from around the world to support this great project.
The Solar Impulse 2 is manned by pilot “Betrand Piccard” who took over after the Swiss pilot “Andre Borscheberg” which managed to fly 13 hours previously at 6,000 meters due to the short trip time. Betrand Piccard who is also the Solar Impluse company chairman said that the adventure has just started.
During the flight, the Solar Impulse 2 is going to fly at higher altitude to cover more ground faster this time, although the original flight was scheduled for Saturday march 7th – which was delayed due to high winds and other difficulties.
– 35,000 Killometres of total flight mileage
– Most of the SI2 is built out of carbon fiber to save weight
– Solar Impluse 2 wings are larger than those of a Boeing 747 (68.5 M) measuring up to 72 meters.
– 500 hours of total flight time
– The polymer Lithium batteries can give up to 4 x 260 Wh/kg (Watts per hour for each Kilogram)
– 17248 Solar Cells with a thickness of 135 micron.
– Constant GPS communications between the SI2 and different stations to follow the flight
– A clear sky ensures that the batteries are charged during the day and used throughout the night
– The flight will see the Solar Impluse 2 go up to 9,000 meters in the morning and 1,500 meters during the night to conserve energy.
– Flight tempretures will range between -20°C to +35°C
– 3.8 m3 (Cockpit size including 1 seat)
– The Solar Impluse 2 weighs 2,300 KG which is as much as an Fj Cruiser.
– Pilots daily nutritional program is restricted to (2.5 L of water, 2.4 kg of food, 1 L of electrolyte charged drinks, limited room for exercise)
Borschberg and Piccard will alternate flying the plane, which can fly on autopilot during rest breaks. “You have to make the cockpit like your own house… you go to the toilet, you wash yourself with wet wipes, you eat, you drink, you recline the seat to have some rest, you turn on the autopilot,” Piccard told reporters.
It isn’t easy to fly with such limited space for long periods thus both pilots underwent intensive training to prepare them for the flight which included self-hypnosis and yoga which can allow them to take short naps of 20 minutes and still be able to wake up and feel fresh again.
The main aim was to fly the Solar Impluse 2 without using a single drop of fuel, and so far they have succeed in taking part of the future of green technology.