Solar Impulse To Fly From Switzerland To Morocco


Solar Impulse is readying for its next big adventure – a flight of over 2,500 kilometers, powered purely by the sun.
We last covered Solar Impulse’s achievements in 2010, when it became the first solar-powered airplane to fly through an entire night.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg have been busy since that time, preparing for Solar Impulse’s around the world journey in 2014, which included a flight to  flight to Paris and Brussels in 2011.
In February this year, André Borschberg completed the three days and three nights of flight simulation, in order to test the human challenge posed by long flights and gain insights for the round-the-world solar energy flight.
In May or June this year, Solar Impulse will fly to Morocco to coincide with the launch of a 2000 megawatt solar project in the nation, providing additional experience in working with international airports, integrating the prototype into regular air traffic patterns and managing maintenance logistics.
Crossing the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, Piccard and Borschberg will take turns to fly the aircraft on what is expected to be 48-hour journey, with a scheduled stopover near Madrid to change pilots.
Weighing around 1,600 kilograms, Solar Impulse’s carbon fibre body has the wingspan of an Airbus A340 (63.4m) . Its wings are covered with 12,000 solar cells, which power four 10HP electric engines and recharge a 400kg lithium battery bank.
The solar cells for the craft have been supplied by SunPower. Another plane is being constructed by the Solar Impulse team using 22,000 SunPower’s Maxeon solar cells. The cells will be incorporated into the plane’s wings and horizontal stabilizer, with each producing an efficiency of up to 24%. SunPower recently announced its Maxeon cells are now in commercial production.
SunPower cells have often been associated with pioneering projects in solar powered vehicles. For example, in 1993,  the company’s  solar cells powered a Honda car that won the World Solar Challenge – a race from Darwin to Adelaide in Australia. The company also worked with NASA to develop the unmanned Helios solar plane that flew to a record altitude of 96,863 feet. SunPower cells also feature in Planet Solar’s “Turanor,” a 31 metre solar powered catamaran.