Solar Impulse Crosses America

Who needs fuel when the sun can keep you aloft?

Solar Impulse over San Francisco. What it lacks in speed, it gains in energy-efficiency. (Solar Impulse/ J. Revillard)

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Solar Impulse has demonstrated that it is possible to fly cleanly for long distances, but how practical is solar-powered flight for general aviation?

Piccard: Today the technology does not allow a solar airplane to transport many passengers, but don’t forget that was also the case when the Wright brothers and Charles Lindbergh were flying. Anyway, our goal is not to make a revolution in air transport. Our goal is to make a revolution in the way people think about clean technologies, renewable energy, and energy conservation. We need to show how the new technology can create jobs, make a profit, sustain growth, and at the same time protect the environment. This is the goal of Solar Impulse.

Would you like to see Solar Impulse end up someday at the National Air and Space Museum?

Piccard: It was one of the most beautiful days of my life when the Breitling Orbiter 3 capsule from my nonstop round-the-world balloon flight was brought to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. I think for me the only way to experience a greater emotion would be to see Solar Impulse also in this museum, where I was dreaming about exploration when I was 12 visiting it with my father.

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