Good Luck to Them: Flying Around the World on Solar Power

solarimpulse2This is the Solar Impulse 2 which is slated to fly around the world using only the power of the sun. That will be a pretty impressive feat if they can do it. So I’ll send them off with my best wishes.

The aircraft has a 236-foot wingspan, and is covered in 17,238 solar cells. That’s wider than a 747 (with 17,238 more solar cells than one), but the cockpit only holds one person at a time. It’s made of carbon fiber and weighs just 5,000 pounds, with engines that are 90 percent more efficient than the turbofans that drive commercial jets. During the flight, the plane will cruise at 28,000 feet to soak up the Sun during the day, dropping down to 16,000 feet at night. It only goes 40 mph, so the trip around the world will take 20 to 25, including time spent switching between pilots.

I assume that is supposed to read “20 to 25 days,” but I’m not about to sit down and do the math.

To help conserve power the plane has neither an air conditioner nor a heater, which probably sucks at 28,000 feet. There is a toilet though. Built right into the seat. That’s every man’s dream.