The Solar Impulse story began back in 1999, when Swiss adventurist Bertrand Picard returned from his round-the world balloon flight. He decided that adventure such as he had just experienced should also serve to motivate society to tackle today’s challenges by using clean technologies and voilà, the idea for Solar Impulse was born.
From 2003 to 2009, the concept was studied, sponsors signed on and a team of engineers were hired. In 2009, the prototype, HB-SIA was unveiled. The first test flights began in 2010 and on July 7th of that year, the HB-SIA made the first night flight in the history of solar aviation lasting in total 26 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds.
In 2012, the team embarked on a mission to fly across the Mediterranean to promote the construction of the world’s largest solar thermal power plant in Morocco. Last year, 2013, was another exciting year for the project when the team made a flight across America, flying from San Francisco to New York City, making stops along the way in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis and and Washington D.C..
The ultimate goal of the Solar Impulse Team was always to fly around the world. They have been working diligently on the design and construction of the Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) with this goal in mind, using the lessons learned with the HB-SIA prototype on the above mentioned flights.
The Solar Impulse 2 will attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 2015. and we here at Solar Thermal Magazine are very excited to be working with Solar Impulse’s social media team to bring you coverage of this historic and inspirational voyage.
Now that you are up to speed on Solar Impulse’s mission, here is some dramatic video taken when Si2 first took to the skies in June 2014, soaring across Switzerland and getting its first view of the Alps. The aircraft has now flown 21 times; with pilots seeking out the sun wherever possible at 8,500m. Co-Founders & Pilots André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard are both confident in the capability of the aircraft and themselves to pilot Si2 for the First Round-The-World Solar Flight.
100 days from now, Solar Impulse will take off from Abu Dhabi for this pioneering journey. Between now and then, Si2 will be dismantled, packed into a cargo plane and reassembled in Abu-Dhabi.
Stay tuned for updates on this historic and inspiring event!
Tracey is an accountant and entrepreneur with a passion for nature. This passion is what spurred her interest in renewable energy, and the rest is history as they say. Tracey is a principal in Energy Think Group, the publisher of Solar Thermal Magazine and Tek-Think. She is also the principal at Women's Financial Help Desk. She spends her free time in the outdoors with her horses and dogs. She loves to travel.