Solar Impulse: Around the World in a Solar Plane
If the Swiff adventurer Dr. Bertrand Piccard, who made history in 1999 by circling the globe non-stop in a balloon, has his way, you would be flying around the Planet without bothering about fuel (as you know it) or living with the guilt of the large amounts of carbon emissions that are a consequence of your every single air-borne trip.
Presenting Solar Impulse: the light weight solar aircraft prototyped HB-SIA which is Dr. Piccard’s attempt at demonstrating the potential of renewable energies. In the words of the man himself, Solar Impulse is ‘to demonstrate the importance of the new technologies in sustainable development, and of course, once again, to place dream and emotion at the heart of scientific adventure.’
In an offline as well as virtual press conference by Solar Impulse today, the group unveiled its plans for not just beginning test flights but also the ultimate target of making a trip around the world on solar energy! The around the world trip has China as its confirmed destination (India anyone!?). The first flight tests are expected for this late summer, beginning of fall. One of the first things that need to be proved are that the plane can stay up even at night, without the sun in the vicinity!
One of the FAQ shared on the site ask, “What will happen in case of a breakdown? In other words, what are the risks for the pilot?
The answer, more philosophical than technical goes like….”If the pilot wastes his energy during the night, he will have to interrupt the flight before the next sunrise. But isn’t it also the case of our generation running the risk of not being able to hand down the planet to future generations without a major human and technological disaster? The pilot will be equipped with a parachute, but our world doesn’t have any such protection to face the climate change!
In other words, the greatest risk is not flying on board of the Solar Impulse, but keeping on wasting our world’s energy and raw materials!
Image Courtesy: Solar Impulse