I've always thought that it is a shame that we waste our precious fossil fuels on driving because we have other methods of moving around here on the ground, like electric cars. We should save our fossil fuels for really important things like flying. After all, we really don't have any other practical way to move around in the skies. The Solar Impulse is a project to change that...to show that solar powered flight is possible.
For some time we've been watching the progress of the Solar Impulse, a Swiss-based, solar powered airplane. This incredible device has a 208' wingspan, is 72' in length and cruises through the air at 43 mph just on solar power alone. They've already got a long list of accomplishments like an intercontinental flight from Switzerland to Morocco and staying aloft over a continuous 26 hour period. (just think about that one for a moment... a solar powered plane that can fly through the night!) Their ultimate goal is to fly around the world in 20 days by 2015.
The exciting news is that the Solar Impulse is currently in the United States for the first time. It is at Moffett Airfield/NASA AIMES here in the SF Bay area right now. Soon it will be taking off on a cross country mission with stopovers in Phoenix, Dallas, Atlanta or St. Louis on its way to Washington D.C. and New York City. The exact dates and locations are dependent on local weather conditions.
I've been tracking the progress of this project for several years and I find it very inspirational. The meer idea that we can conquer flight with just solar power is fantastic. I think it can spur further light weight solar panels and batteries that will ultimately be useful in electric cars and other areas. I wish them good luck on their mission and I will definitely plan to see them before they leave the area. I really hope that, like the space shuttle, they fly over our house while they wander around the bay. I'll have my camera at the ready just in case.
Follow the Solar Impulse on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and/or YouTube.