The world’s first solar-powered plane has begun its flight around the world. The plane, which is about as heavy as a Jeep and has wings the equivalent of an Airbus 380 that run off 17,000 solar cells. It travels at speeds from 50-100 kilometers per hour, topping out just short of a car’s freeway speeds.
The pilots, Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, are taking turns at the helm of the one-man vessel, and the trip will take place over the next five months. The plane, according to Piccard, can run on autopilot during rest breaks, which will be crucial over the length of the trip. The pilots’ itinerary includes stops in China, Hawaii and Europe, but the true test of their training will be a five-day, non-stop flight across the Pacific Ocean. According to reports, the cockpit can accommodate rest breaks, bathroom breaks, even wet wipe “showers.”
Why would someone want to take on this grueling journey alone? Piccard, in 1999, became the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a hot air balloon, so he’s familiar with the adventure.
We look forward to celebrating their achievement and the amazing power of solar energy!