Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard are preparing to fly a solar-powered plane around the world in 2012. They are set to test a prototype which will take flight for 24 hours. Borschberg will be the pilot and must stay awake the full time because the prototype does not have an auto-pilot capability. Borschberg says that the mere excitement of a test flight will keep him awake that long easily.
The test plane will depart from a Swiss airport sometime in June. The catch is that the plane must continue to fly all day to collect solar power so that it will be able to function during the night. In this case, using energy will charge the plane as well, but it must be kept active to keep the energy balance stable.
Bertrand Piccard is known for taking risky but successful air travels. He was the first to complete a non-stop balloon flight around the world. Andre Borschberg is a businessman with a long-time fascination with air travel. A graduate of MIT with a degree in mechanical engineering, Piccard is now the CEO and project co-founder of Solar Impulse, the company behind this latest mission of solar-powered air flight.
This new project is still in its early stages, but perhaps the technology will eventually expand into commercial travels. Until then, the prospect is not without its risks. Would you take a fly on a solar-powered flying machine?
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