Solar Impulse, a Swiss venture launched by explorer/innovator/engineer/psychologist/businessmen Betrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, is shooting beyond the moon and aiming for the sun. Their mission: build a solar aircraft that can fly all day and all night, feeding on nothing but the sun’s energy. A plane that could – if the pilot himself could stay awake long enough – fly around the world in a single shot, without ever landing or refueling. The company has already completed eight successful daytime test flights since April of this year, and is now gearing up for stage two of testing, in which they’ll prove to the world that Lionel Richie isn’t the only one who can go all night long.
Actually, Bertrand and Piccard aren’t very much like Lionel Richie at all. They’re pretty serious dudes – less into “losing themselves in the wild romance,” and more into racing to pioneer and conquer in the green transport field. The cover of their press packets reads: “Will Solar Impulse be able to defy the long nights using solar energy alone?” Defy the long nights! It all sounds – and maybe is – quite epic.
“The big question will be whether the pilot will be able to save sufficient energy as to fly right through the night,” says Bertrand. “These night flights in an aircraft propelled uniquely by solar energy are intended to demonstrate the potential of the renewable energies and the technologies that will gradually enable us to diminish our dependence on oil.”
Solar Impulse’s first night-time flight is slated to take place very soon – between June 20 and 30 – so keep an eye on the company’s website for updates, and to track their progress. They may be leading the way to the future of transportation.