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Completely Solar Powered Plane attempts First 24 hour Flight

July 7, 2010

The Solar Impulse getting ready for its first 24 hour flight

According to CNET, a solar-powered plane designed to fly night and day will attempts is first 24 hour flight.

The plane, called Solar Impulse HB-SIA, took off from Switzerland on 9:51 p.m. Tuesday Pacific time and is expected to fly non-stop for 24 hours. The plan is going to use the solar energy captured during the day to keep it in air throughout the night. The pilot will achieve an altitude of 28,000 feet during day in order to take full advantage of the daylight, when the sun at it highest and brightest point. Once the sun starts setting, the pilot will descend with to an altitude of 4,900 feet in order to capture as many sun rays as possible.

The Cessna Citation private jet uses up to 1,900 horsepower and almost 3990 gallons of fuel.

The plane’s revolutionary design allows it to use only 8 horsepower, which is almost the same amount of power used by the Wright Brothers for their flight, to achieve its goal; to fly for 24 hours while consuming zero fuel. In comparison a private jet like Cessna Citation Jet 525, uses 1900 horsepower and has a fuel capacity of 3220 gallons, and it only seats 8 people, however the private jet will get the owner further faster than the Solar Impulse.

Still, purely solar-powered flights are only in their initial stages of development and a flight on the scale that the Solar Impulse is attempting has never been accomplished before. The developers say once the flight is successful it will be the longest and highest flight completed by a solar plane.

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