Solar Impulse Ready for International Flight

Goal is to fly fuel-free around the world.

Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse
Solar Impulse/ Revillard

p>An all-solar-powered airplane, HB-SIA, created by Swiss Solar Impulse, is being prepped to depart on its first international flight. The airplane is scheduled to attend an event in Brussels from May 23 through May 29, followed by an appearance at the Paris Air Show from June 20 through June 26. After seven years of development, this tour is a significant milestone toward the company's goal of flying around the world using strictly renewable energy through solar power.

The Solar Impulse HB-SIA is a carbon-fiber airplane, with a 208-foot wingspan (the equivalent of an Airbus A340) and a weight equivalent of an average family car. Nearly 12,000 solar cells integrated into the wing supply four 10-horsepower electric motors with renewable energy and charge four lithium polymer batteries during the day, enabling the aircraft to fly at night. The HB-SIA takes off at around 20 knots and the average speed of the airplane is about 38 knots.