Solar Impulse, the world’s lightest electric plane, powered entirely by solar panels, will take off this spring and head for Morocco, where it will mark the start of building the country’s five solar complexes that will generate a total of 2 GW of electricity.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the company’s two founders (and both licensed pilots), will fly the Solar Impulse to its destination in two shifts. The entire journey will take about 48 hours (over 2,500 kilometers) and they’ll have to stop near Madrid for swapping.
Borschberg, who is also the CEO, said: “We didn’t have a moment’s hesitation in accepting the idea of working with Morocco. This destination corresponds fully with the goals we had set ourselves, in terms of distance and flight duration. Flying as far as this, powered only by solar energy will be excellent training for the round-the-world trip.”
The round-the-world trip Borschberg is talking about will take place in 2014, and for that matter the team is already making arrangements with various countries to include the flight into each country’s regular international air traffic.
Once again for those who don’t know yet, the Solar Impulse has a wingspan of an Airbus A340 (63.4 meters – 208 feet) and the weight of a full family car. Its electric motors develop 40 horsepower and the solar panels charge 400 kilos of lithium ion batteries (just like a Tesla Roadster’s), to give the plane the ability to fly by night.