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.
Space is limited for the free event, which is scheduled for Saturday, April 20, at Moffett Field. Two of the four viewing slots were booked up by Tuesday evening. Those interested in attending can save a spot in line by going to solarimpulseatmoffett.eventbrite.com.
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 André 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.