energi terbarukan: surya di langit … 080710

July 8, 2010
Solar-Powered Plane Flies for 26 Hours
PARIS — Slender as a stick insect, a solar-powered experimental airplane with a huge wing span completed its first test flight of more than 24 hours on Thursday, powered overnight by energy collected from the sun during a day aloft over Switzerland.

The plane — Solar Impulse — landed where it had taken off 26 hours earlier at Payerne, 30 miles southwest of the capital, Berne, after gliding and looping over the Jura mountains, its 12,000 solar cells absorbing energy to keep its batteries charged when the sun went down.

The pilot, André Borschberg, 57, a former Swiss fighter pilot, flew the plane from a cramped, single-seat cockpit, buffeted by low-level turbulence after take-off and chilled by low temperatures overnight, news reports said.

The project’s co-founder, Bertrand Piccard, embraced the pilot after he landed the plane — with the registration letters HB-SIA — to the cheers of hundreds of supporters.

“When you took off it was another era,” The Associated Press quoted Mr. Piccard as saying. “You land in a new era where people understand that with renewable energy you can do impossible things.”

The project’s designers had set out to prove that, theoretically at least, the plane with its airliner-size, 207-foot wing span can stay aloft indefinitely, recharging batteries during the day and using the stored power overnight.

They say their ambition is to fly around the world using only solar power.

The seven-year-old project is not designed to replace jet transportation, however. The propeller-driven plane is powered by four small electric motors.

Just 17 hours after take-off, a blog on the project’s Web site reported that “André says he’s felling great up there.”

“His only complaints involve little things like a slightly sore back as well as a 10-hour period during which it was minus 20 degrees Celsius in the cockpit.”

“That made his drinking water system freeze up and worse of all his iPod batteries die.”


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