Solar powered airplane: ready for take-off?

Solar powered plane being tested in Switzerland.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

A solar powered airplane has passed its first set of tests. On the ground. The "Solar Impulse" has been undergoing runway tests in Switzerland. It's powered by over 11-thousand solar panels on its very long wings.

Here on the Impulse's website you can see videos of the plane. The goal is to fly it around the world. Omega, Solvay and Deutsche Bank are the main corporate sponsors of the project.

Image courtesy of Solar Impulse.

So far the plane has not left the ground, but both engines definitely run. Says the website, "At the controls of the HB-SIA, Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel cautiously took to the runway under the watchful eyes of the whole team, with computers monitoring the plane’s behaviour online via the embedded telemetric devices. "This inaugural day out on the runway allowed low-speed runway testing with the prototype going through a series of acceleration and breaking manoeuvres, checking that the calculated and simulated strains are not being exceeded."

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