Solar Impulse is a solar-powered drone-plane that has just completed a trans-continental flight from north-western USA to New York City on the east coast.
Two months ago, Solar Impulse took off from Washington state in the north-western United States, with the mission to fly across the country using only solar power. Since then, it has cruised through the air at a slow and steady 45 mph, taking the occasional stop-over along the way and steering clear of pesky clouds. Now, it has finally arrived, though a torn wing forced the flight to be cut short ever so slightly.
Last night, an 8 foot tear appeared on the underside of the Solar Impulse’s wing, forcing it to land at 11pm at New York’s JFK International Airport, a few hours short of its planned Sunday morning landing. As a result, a planned photo-op as it circled the Statue of Liberty had to be cancelled. Apart from that, it was still a successful flight and the Solar Impulse has become the first solar-powered plane to fly across the US.
Solar panels aplenty
The Swiss plane completed the journey with wings that packed 12,000 solar cells. On board, 800 pounds worth of batteries were used to store the excess power. It’s going to need that power, because now that the trans-American flight has been completed, the Solar Impulse team is planning to take it around the globe. They circumnavigation is planned for 2015.