Faster Than A Balloon
Bertrand Piccard is
planning to fly around the world in a solar powered airplane. The
Swiss adventurer announced that he plans to build "Solar Impulse"
with help from the European Space Agency. His flight, planned for
2010 is to demonstrate and develop renewable energies and new
No stranger to adventure, Piccard made the first nonstop
around-the-world balloon flight in 1999 with co-pilot Brian Jones.
They were successful on the third attempt.
Jones will be one of Solar Impulse's three pilots. Piccard and
Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse's CEO, will join him in the cockpit
of Solar Impulse in 2010.
"Solar Impulse will
promote the idea of a new aviation era using cleaner planes powered
by the almost infinite energy of the sun rather than the dirty,
finite reserves of fossil fuels," said Piccard.
The ESA has developed "efficient solar cells, intelligent energy
management systems and resourceful storage systems," said Pierre
Brisson, head of ESA's Technology Transfer Program.
"We will make available this expertise, together with our
advanced technologies, to support Piccard's effort to demonstrate
the potential of sustainable development," said Brisson.
"Although in its present design the craft will never be able to
carry many passengers, we believe that Solar Impulse can spark
awareness about the technologies that can make sustainable
development possible," said Piccard.
Piccard plans to fly west to east, 10 to 30 degrees north of the
equator, to take best advantage of the winds and sunlight. Solar
Impulse's concept and design was displayed in June at the Paris air
Piccard and his crew will be on a tight schedule if they hope to
accomplish their goal. The aircraft should be built by 2007, test
flown in 2008, and have a few multiple-day solar flights completed
before any attempt can be made to go around the world.