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Solar Impulse 2 reaches India

André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard beside the cockpit of Solar Impulse 2Solar Impulse 2 is just not any other plane; it is a plane which is attempting to circumnavigate the earth, without using a single drop of fuel. As the name suggests, the plane is solar-powered. The plane is powered by 17,000 solar cells, which gives it the ability to fly at night also. Thus, the plane can fly non-stop for days, provided the cells are recharged on a regular basis.

The solar powered plane landed in India, late on Tuesday, and in the process completed its first leg of the journey. The plane landed at Ahmedabad. It had taken off from Muscat, and took 16 hours to complete the 910 miles journey. After Ahmedabad, it is scheduled to fly to Varanasi.

Specifications of the plane:

Solar Impulse 2 is powered by 17,000 solar lithium battery cells which weigh about 633kg combined. The total weight of the plane is about 2,300kg, which is almost equal to a weight of a car. The wingspan of the plane is 72 meters, which is as long as a Boeing 747. It is a single-seater plane with a top speed of around 140km/h and a cruise speed of around 90km/h. At night in order to preserve the power, the plane cruises at a speed of 60km/h.

The solar-powered Solar Impulse 2 experimental aircraft flown by German test pilot Markus Scherdel, lands during its maiden flight in Payerne

The Journey

The plane was a brainchild of Swiss aeronaut Bertand Piccard, and it is being financed by Swiss businessman Andre Borschberg, who is also one of the pilots of the plane. Both Piccard and Borschberg will be taking turns piloting the plane in its 21,700 mile journey. Solar Impulse 2 will remain in the Northern Hemisphere when it circumnavigates the earth. There will be 12 stops in the 21,700 miles journey, which will be mostly used for the maintenance of the aircraft and to switch the pilots.

One of the main reasons for the start of this project was to spread the awareness about how renewable energy resources, especially solar power, can be used instead of fossil fuels in the future.

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