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May 14, 2013 > Solar Impulse: crossing US on sun power

Solar Impulse: crossing US on sun power

Submitted By Alenka Zibetto

May 4, 2013 - Solar Impulse, the solar airplane of Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, successfully launched the "Clean Generation" initiative by completing the first leg of the 2013 Across America mission - the first crossing of the United States by a solar-powered airplane capable of flying day and night.

Pilot Bertrand Piccard took off from Moffett Airfield at NASA's Ames Research Center (CA) at 06:12 a.m. PDT (UTC-7) and, after a 18 hours and 18 minutes flight from southern California, over the Mojave National Preserve and into Arizona, he landed the HB-SIA prototype at 00:30 a.m. MST (UTC-7) at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport. This is the first of five legs that will lead the project's co-founders, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, to alternately fly the solar airplane coast-to-coast from California to New York.

"We've been dreaming about crossing the United States for years - the land of scientific research, innovation and aviation pioneers - and it's hard to believe it's really happening." said Andre Borschberg (Co-Founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse) and Bertrand Piccard (Initiator, Chairman and pilot of Solar Impulse) as they walked down the runway. "We are thrilled to have safely and successfully completed this first leg and we weren't alone: thousands of names of our supporters virtually accompanied us. With them, we launched the "Clean Generation" initiative promoting clean technologies."

Swiss pioneers Dr Bertrand Piccard (Chairman) and Andre Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots and the driving force behind Solar Impulse, the first airplane that can fly day and night without fuel. Solar Impulse is a unique adventure that aims to bring emotions back at the heart of scientific exploration, a flying laboratory to find innovative technological solutions for today's challenges and a vision to inspire each of us to be pioneers in our everyday lives.

This revolutionary carbon fibre airplane has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 (63.4m / 208 ft) and the weight of a small car (1,600kg / 3,527 lb). It is the result of seven years of intense work, calculations, simulations and tests by a team of about 80 people and 100 partners and advisors. A plane so big and light has never been built before. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10HP electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge the 400kg / 881 lb lithium batteries which allow the plane to fly at night.

The Across America itinerary:
May 3rd 2013: First leg San Francisco/Moffett Airfield - Phoenix/Sky Harbor
Mid May 2013: Second leg Phoenix/Sky Harbor - Dallas/Fort Worth
End May - Early June 2013: Third leg Dallas/Fort Worth - St. Louis/Lambert Airport
Mid June 2013: Fourth leg St. Louis/Lambert Airport - Washington DC/Dulles
Early July 2013: Fifth and last leg Washington DC/Dulles - New York/JFK
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