Solar Powered Aircraft to Circle the Globe

When Bertrand Piccard came up with his audacious plan to fly around the world in an aircraft powered only by the sun, he found that airplane manufacturers were skeptical such a plane could be built. So who built the first model of "Solar Impulse," Piccard's $72-million solar-powered craft? A company that makes ships. And now the airplane is built. The first flight was achieved on the third of December and in the spring and summer this year, we're going to make the high-altitude flights and the cycle of [flying] one day, one night and one day. This little airplane is not a Piper or Cessna with a couple of solar cells. It's a really high-tech carbon fiber airplane which is 200 feet in wingspan. It weighs 1.6 tons. The plane will travel very slowly. Otherwise it would take too much energy. The average speed will be 40 knots, roughly 55 miles per hour. The entire budget is 100 million U.S. dollars, coming from private sponsors.

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