Plane to fly cross-country using only solar power this Spring

For the first time, this spring, a solar-powered airplane will travel across the continental US:

The solar-powered plane called the Solar Impulse will travel from San Francisco to New York using 11,628 photovoltaic cells, several lithium polymer batteries and four 10 horsepower electric engines. The plane's wingspan is the size of a Boeing 747, it weighs about as much as a car and has as much power as an average scooter.

This development came out of the near-failure of the 1999 balloon trip around the world by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones. Piccard and partner Andre Borschberg have already flown their solar-powered plane, from Switzerland to Morocco and back, in the first intercontinental solar-powered flight.

One issue with this coming flight, thought, is that there are currently no commercial applications for this plane. For Piccard, the goal is not commercial, but to demonstrate a principle.

Two guiding principles drive Solar Impulse, said Piccard: To demonstrate clean, energy efficient technology capabilities and inspire people to achieve things that may initially appear impossible.

Aviation is an ideal vehicle for such a demonstration explained Borschberg and Piccard. Beginning with the Wright Brothers, modern explorers, pioneers and innovators are both pushed and pulled by technology as they strive to achieve distant goals.

To read more about this solar-powered acheivement, head over to