Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

A landslide victory for the 'invisible candidate' in Algeria's Presidential polls

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 18 April 2014 (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Presidential adviser resigns over "shoe-shine scandal"

Read more

#THE 51%

Breaking stereotypes

Read more

#TECH 24

Galaxy S5 v. HTC One (M8): Which is the right one for you?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

New PM Manuel Valls outlines priorities

Read more

FASHION

Jean-Marc Loubier, bags and shoes.

Read more

ENCORE!

Hip-hop musician Beat Assailant on mixing the sounds of the city

Read more

  • Bouteflika, the ghost president

    Read more

  • Algeria's ailing Bouteflika clinches fourth term amid fraud claims

    Read more

  • Does Valls’ upcoming Vatican trip violate French secularism?

    Read more

  • Police arrest S. Korea ferry captain for negligence

    Read more

  • Ukraine separatists say ‘not bound’ by Geneva deal

    Read more

  • Obama signs bill to block controversial Iran diplomat from UN post

    Read more

  • Abel Ferrara’s hotly awaited DSK film to premiere on web

    Read more

  • World honours Garcia Marquez’s magical literary legacy

    Read more

  • Ukraine: ‘One bloody incident could scupper Geneva deal’

    Read more

  • Top Hollande adviser resigns over conflict of interest accusation

    Read more

  • Indian election: Votes for sale

    Read more

  • West African Ebola outbreak caused by new strain of virus

    Read more

  • Astronomers discover Earth-like planet that could support life

    Read more

  • Video: Tensions remain high in Mariupol despite Geneva deal

    Read more

  • In Prijedor, survivors fight to keep memory alive

    Read more

  • Deadly avalanche strikes Everest in worst-ever disaster

    Read more

  • With a strong French presence, veterans and fresh faces, Cannes aims to please

    Read more

  • Russia and West agree on steps to ease Ukraine crisis

    Read more

  • Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • Eurostar train mishap causes 'severe' delays

    Read more

  • Chelsea Clinton announces she's pregnant

    Read more

  • French troops free five aid workers kidnapped in Mali by Islamists

    Read more

  • In pictures: Iranian woman pardons son’s killer at the gallows

    Read more

  • After cup defeat, Spanish pundits read last rites for Barcelona

    Read more

  • India heads to polls in single largest day of voting

    Read more

Earth

If only Icarus had known...solar plane embarks on historic flight

©

Video by Siobhán SILKE

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-07-07

If Icarus could do it all over again, he'd probably take to the skies in "Solar Impulse", an experimental solar-powered aircraft that embarked on a 25 plus hour flight Wednesday, in a move to draw attention to the importance of solar energy.

AFP - An experimental solar-powered aircraft took off from a Swiss airbase here shortly after daybreak on Wednesday in a historic bid to fly around the clock and prove the value of solar energy.

Solar Impulse whirred along the runway at Payerne in western Switzerland, reaching 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph) as lone pilot Andre Borschberg gently lifted into clear skies at 6:51 am (0451 GMT).

"Conditions are really beautiful up here, I feel great," Borschberg told AFP by radio some three hours into his planned 25 plus hour flight, as he cruised over the Jura hills in northern Switzerland at an altitude of 3,300 metres (10,000 feet).

The Swiss pilot's take off run took barely 90 metres, testimony to the light weight and giant airliner-size wingspan of the single seater craft, which relies totally on 12,000 solar cells and nearly half a tonne of batteries.

"This should be a great day if all goes well," said team chief Bertrand Piccard, who made the first non-stop round-the-world flight in a balloon more than a decade ago.

"It's clear that this is something that is completely different at least for aviation, but it's also something completely different to what has existed in our society," he added.

"The goal is to take to the air with no fuel. The goal is to show that we can be much more independent from fossil energy than people usually think."

The ground control crew were due to decide shortly before dusk whether Borschberg should press on with a pioneering flight through darkness and land at Payerne the next morning.

The go-ahead will depend on the sun's ability to charge up Solar Impulse's batteries in the daytime and the threat of strong high altitude winds, joint flight control chief and former astronaut Claude Nicollier said.

"We're confident the plane can do it," he added.

The overnight flight by the prototype built last year is the first major hurdle for the project since it started seven years ago, with the aim of flying around the world by 2013 or 2014.

The Solar Impulse prototype relies on the sun to power the engines and charge the batteries, in theory storing enough energy to last through some seven to eight hours of darkness.

A first attempt was called off an hour before scheduled take off last Thursday after an electronic component failed, but it was replaced within days.

The single seater shaped like a giant dragonfly is clad with solar panels across a wingspan the size of an Airbus A340 airliner (63 metres).

But the high tech craft is powered by just four small electric motors and propellors -- as the crew put it, the "power of a scooter" -- and weighs little more than a saloon car.

The weight-saving has gone to the extent of saving on an automatic pilot for Borschberg, a former fighter jet pilot, who will try to stay alert for up to 27 hours flight with the help of space mission-like ground control team.

Solar Impulse has completed at least 10 test flights since it first hopped along a runway seven months ago, staying aloft for up to 14 hours in the long summer daylight hours.

But the ultimate test will be to land back at Payerne shortly after dawn on Thursday having been fuelled by nothing but the sun's rays, setting the stage for ocean crossing, transcontinental and round the world flights over the coming years.

The pioneering bid is being monitored by the international aeronautical federation (FIA), which oversees aviation records.
 

Date created : 2010-07-07

  • USA

    Obama commits nearly $2 billion to solar companies

    Read more

  • ENVIRONMENT

    Brussels pumps cash into wind farm and carbon capture schemes

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)