Solar Impulse, an experimental solar plane, took off on a historic
ride around the world early today from Geneva, Switzerland.
Supporters hope that this flight will prove the value of solar
energy.According to team co-founder Bertrand Piccard, a
record-breaking balloonist who's father and grandfather also
airborne and submarine feats, the prototype has been designed to
test and promote new energy-efficient technologies. "The
goal of the project is to have a solar-powered plane flying day and
night without fuel," Piccard said. "This flight is crucial
for the credibility of the project."Ten test flights
have been completed since the project began seven months ago. The
prototype aircraft is a single-seater shaped like a giant dragonfly.
It has 12,000 solar panels spread across its 207 foot (63 meter)
wingspan. The aircraft is powered by four small electric
motors and will depend on the sun to charge its batteries.
theory is that the aircraft will store enough energy during the day
to last through the night. Pilot Andre Borschberg, a former
flight jet pilot, will attempt to stay alert during the flight with
the help of a ground control team that is monitoring the aircraft on
the teams website.
57, is wearing a parachute just in case he runs into trouble in the