technology podcast #328

Solar Powered Plane Takes Flight

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This is the Solar Impulse, the world’s first plane that flies completely by solar power. It’s the brainchild of adventurer Bertrand Piccard, and engineer/pilot André Borschberg. The goal is to circumnavigate the globe with a solar-powered plane by the year 2014. We have covered Solar Impulse before, most recently in July of last year, when the team managed to keep the plane in the air for 26 straight hours. The solar cells charged the batteries during the day, and then had enough juice to last the night. We also featured an extended interview with Piccard in Episode 254. But today, the Solar Impulse team is trying to take another step. They are flying the plane through crowded European airspace from Payerne, Switzerland to Brussels, Belgium. The flight left at 8:40AM, and is due into Brussels at around 9PM local time. You can follow the progress, server allowing, in real time!

André Borschberg has been doing press interviews all day from the cockpit. I reached him just as he was crossing over the border from France into Luxemburg. I got the chance to ask him a few questions, including some from WTP listners Mar Cruz, Kevin Wang, and Don Rideaux-Crenshaw. Thanks very much for your great questions!

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 13th, 2011 at 9:31 AM and is filed under Technology Podcast. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

4 Responses to “Solar Powered Plane Takes Flight”

  1. Paul Gracey

    Depending upon what one’s definition of what a solar powered aircraft might be, the commercialization is not that far off. There are several companies bringing electric aircraft to the general aviation market in the next few years and the proposals often suggest that the hangers in which these planes will be stored could use solar arrays on the roof to do the recharging. These aircraft will make small airports being encroached by development into more tolerable neighbors.

    • Error: Unable to create directory /home/worldsci/public_html//wp-content/uploads/2014/04. Is its parent directory writable by the server? Clark Boyd

      Paul —

      Thanks for sharing that information. Do you have any links you could share with us to the companies that are proposing these kinds of things? Sounds like it would make a really interesting follow-up story!

  2. Alex

    The question about whether the engines were jets or props was – well, a really stupid question. If that’s what we get with technology interviews, let someone else do them.

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