Researchers unveil solar airplane prototype

Swiss researchers have revealed their prototype for a solar-powered airplane that could begin test flights in the next couple of years.

An Associated Press report describes the project, which is said to include 12,000 photovoltaic cells and rechargeable batteries with an average expected flight speed of only about 44 miles per hour.

The developers reportedly hope to take the plane on a flight around the world in the foreseeable future, and a fully completed plane could be ready for such an effort as early as 2012.

"If an aircraft is able to fly day and night without fuel, propelled solely by solar energy, let no one come and claim that is impossible to do the same thing for motor vehicles, heating and air conditioning systems and computers," adventurer Bertrand Piccard was quoted as saying in a separate Reuters report.

Reuters also noted that Piccard completed a nonstop hot air balloon flight around the world in 1999 and that the current prototype is the result of a six-year effort by about 50 engineers.

Author: Tom Staples

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Posted in: Solar Energy

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