After assembling their solar-powered plane at Moffett Field and working out the kinks in the skies above the Bay Area, the team behind the Solar Impulse is ready to lift the curtain -- inviting the community to come and get close to the aircraft, which is capable of flying both day and night using energy harvested entirely from the sun.
The Impulse, a carbon fibre plane, with a skin composed almost entirely of solar panels, has a wingspan of 208 feet -- equivalent to that of a Boeing 747 -- but weighs only 3,527 pounds, about the weight of a small car. About a quarter of the weight is from the plane's batteries, which are able to store up enough energy to keep the plane flying through the night.
Bertrand Piccard and AndrĂ© Borschberg, the Swiss co-founders leading the project, say that they want to inspire people with the Impulse. Even though a solar-powered commercial plane is a long way off, Piccard told the Voice that he hopes the project will create excitement around solar technology, which he believes is underutilized.
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