The innovative minds that created the first solar-powered aircraft that could fly for over 24 hours have unveiled its bigger and better successor, the Solar Impulse 2. Their new plane may not have the passenger capacity of the 747, but it does have the same wingspan, despite only weighing 2300 kg / 5000 lb.
The new plane is designed with one seriously impressive task in mind, circumnavigating the globe in a single flight, a task they plan to undertake next year. The plane will be allowed to land, giving the pilots time to exchange roles and restock the cabin, especially given that carrying a full stock for the whole trip would add a lot of extra weight that they could do without. The real issues will come when crossing the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, which could take five days at the Solar Impulse 2’s maximum speed of around 85 mph as they won’t be able to land in the water.
To save power at night the craft only outputs 15 horsepower over a 24 hour period, this is complimented by 87% efficient motors and a huge array of high performance solar cells along the wingspan of the craft. While the pilots can enjoy, for lack of a better word, their new seating arrangement in the cabin, which features custom chairs that can be converted into a toilet and a bed.
I’m a fan of petrol burning engines and other such things, but the advancement of clean energies is a worthy pursuit and I can’t wait to see what else the team can come up with in the future.
Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information.
Image courtesy of Arstechnica.