Solar-Powered Plane Completes First Leg of Journey Around the Globe
Imagine flying around the world without an ounce of jet fuel. That dream is becoming a reality at this very moment as Solar Impulse, a plane that operates solely on solar power, attempts to travel around the world.
The futuristic aircraft took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and has just completed the first leg of its journey, landing in Muscat International Airport in Oman after 12 hours in the air. The plane is expected to stop in 12 cities over the next five months, all with the goal of bringing attention to advancements in solar energy technology.
Watch the takeoff here:
Solar Impulse is definitely not a passenger plane; in fact, it only has one seat. The plane has a 72-meter wingspan, roughly equivalent to a Boeing 747 passenger plane, but weighs only 2,300 kilograms, or approximately the weight of a car.
One of the particularly impressive features of the Solar Impulse is that it can fly at night, under the cover of darkness.
Solar panels cover the top of the Solar Impulse body and wings.
To check in on the Solar Impulse progress or peak into the control room, click here.
Two pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, are tag-teaming the flight around the world. The team has spent 12 years preparing for the solar-powered round-the-world flight, which you can follow on Twitter with the hashtag #RTW.
Borschberg was the pilot for the takeoff, but the team will follow each other around the world on the adventure.
Oh, and if you, like me, has been wondering how the pilots go to the bathroom when they are in the air, then have a look at this, admittedly humorous, take on how the team engineered a solution.
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.