Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Solar Powered Aircraft

The project was launched by Bertrand Piccard – described variously as aeronaut and adventurer – as a mechanism to inspire the development of the new technologies that he believes should be demanded in order to preserve the planet's resources. Through this high profile challenge, he wants to inspire an ethos of sustainable development, engender better respect for the environment and reinforce the idea that technology can work hand in hand with sustainability."Exploration is not about breaking records, but breaking preconceptions," he says. Using the analogy of dropping ballast from a balloon to gain altitude rapidly, he advises that, to climb out of a crisis, we may have to throw our certainties overboard and identify a new way of thinking. Piccard emphasises the Solar Impulse project is unachievable without pushing back current technological limits. "The greater the challenge, the better the technology needed to meet it."Solar Impulse provides nothing if not a challenge. With an 80m wingspan and severe weight restrictions, the solar powered aircraft is stretching the developers working on all areas of the project.Solar Impulse has attracted an impressive array of sponsors and technology partners, including Altran, Dassault, ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL), Services Industriel de Genève (SIG) and Solvay, as well as many specialist suppliers.

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