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Solar Impulse's HB-SIA solar-powered airplane was runway tested last week. The prototype aircraft is made of lightweight materials, weighing only 3,500 pounds and it has a wingspan of 210 feet. It is powered entirely by the 11,000 solar cells covering its wings. It is intended to fly at only 28 miles per hour to keep energy consumption low. It will store solar energy for night flight
Founder of Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard, a former astronaut and the first man to circle the world nonstop in a balloon, hopes to perform the same feet in a solar-powered plane derived from on the HB-SIA design. Solar Impulse aims to test the prototype in flight next year and to achieve a 36-hour flight without fuel shortly after that. Results from these tests will be used to build a solar-powered plane to will attempt a transcontinental flight sometime after 2012.
No way, what happens if it gets too cloudy and the batteries run out?
It is intended to fly at only 28 miles per hour to keep energy consumption low. It will store solar energy for night flight
from the OP
On August 14, 2001, the Helios Prototype piloted remotely by Greg Kendall reached an altitude of 96,863 feet (29,523.8 m), a world record for sustained horizontal flight by a winged aircraft. The altitude reached was more than 11,000 feet (3,352.8 m) — or more than 2 miles (3.2 km) — above the previous altitude record for sustained flight by a winged aircraft. In addition, the aircraft spent more than 40 minutes above 96,000 feet (29,260.8 m).