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Swiss solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse HB-SIA tries first 24-hour flight

07-08-2010 08:59 BJT

GENEVA, July 7 (Xinhua) -- A Swiss-built solar-powered aircraft took off on Wednesday for the first 24-hour test flight which could make history in the research of solar energy aviation.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off at around 06: 50 local time (0450 GMT) from the Payerne airbase in western Switzerland with Andre Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the project, at the controls, according to a statement issued by the Solar Impulse team.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off at around 06: 50 local time (0450 GMT) from the Payerne airbase in western Switzerland with Andre Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the project, at the controls, according to a statement issued by the Solar Impulse team.
The Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off at around 06: 50 local time (0450 GMT) 
from the Payerne airbase in western Switzerland with Andre Borscherg, 
CEO and co-founder of the project, at the controls, according to a 
statement issued by the Solar Impulse team.

For the whole day long the prototype will be slowly ascending to an altitude of 8,500 meters, while at the same time charging its batteries in preparation for the night flight.

When the sun's rays stop being strong enough to supply the solar cells (about two hours before sunset) with energy, the HB-SIA will start a slow descent, finally reaching an altitude of around 1,500 meters. It should then carry on the night flying, using the energy stored in its batteries, until the next sunrise.

"The big question is whether the pilot can make efficient use of the battery energy to fly throughout the night. If this mission is successful, it will be the longest and highest flight ever made by a solar plane," the statement said.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off at around 06: 50 local time (0450 GMT) from the Payerne airbase in western Switzerland with Andre Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the project, at the controls, according to a statement issued by the Solar Impulse team.
The Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off at around 06: 50 local time (0450 GMT) 
from the Payerne airbase in western Switzerland with Andre Borscherg, 
CEO and co-founder of the project, at the controls, according to a 
statement issued by the Solar Impulse team.(File Photo)

Bertrand Piccard, initiator and president of the project, said the intention of this test flight was to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy and clean technologies and to promote them among the public.

Solar Impulse HB-SIA is the first aircraft designed to fly day and night without fuel or pollution.

A 70-strong team, together with 80 partners, took seven years of hard work, calculations, simulations and tests to build this completely new carbon fibre plane, with its wingspan equivalent to that of an Airbus A340 (63.4 meters) and weighing about the same as a middle-sized car (1600 kg).

 

Editor:Zheng Limin |Source: Xinhua

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