Solar Impulse. Credit: Jen Baer/NLSI Staff

Solar Impulse is the size of a Boeing 747, weighs as much as a small to mid-size car, and generates just enough electricity to power a scooter. Professional airplane builders said it wasn’t possible, but as Bertrand Piccard famously said, “This is not just an airplane, it’s a movement.”

And in fact they did build a plane that big, that light, and that energy efficient. Solar Impulse was the first plane to fly 26 hours continuously day and night without fuel. After this year’s “Across America” Mission, the challenge will be to fly around the world. Solar Impulse is set to become the first plane to fly around the world using only the power of the sun.

When Piccard completed the first ever non-stop balloon flight around the world, he started with 3.7 tonnes of liquid propane as fuel and landed with only 80lbs left in the tank. That was a crucial moment, when he realized how dependent the world was on fuel, and when the issue of reducing energy consumption and increasing efficiency became paramount to him.

Propeller and Engine. Credit: Jen Baer/NLSI Staff

“Much of our world has been conquered; humans have been to the highest mountains, to the deepest depths, to the north pole, the south pole, to the Moon. Where can we still utilize our pioneering spirit? There are so many challenges that require new answers, new solutions, new strategies. We need to encourage people to think completely outside the box to find the new solutions, to fight poverty, to support human rights, to introduce more sustainable actions, to introduce renewable energies and energy savings in order to save the natural resources of our world,” Piccard said. “All this became for me the obvious adventure of the 21st century: where we need scientists, technology, new solutions and of course the spirit of exploration. Solar Impulse, for me, represents all of this.”

You can see the solar airplane above the Golden Gate Bridge! Tuesday April 23rd, with Bertrand Piccard at the controls, the plane will venture out all the way to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.

HB-SIA will take off from Moffett Airfield around 7:00 am PDT (UTC -7) and begin a climb above the Airfield. It will then set out westwards to the Pacific Coast and proceed towards a holding area over the Ocean, west of the Golden Gate Bridge. Around 3:00 pm PDT (UTC -7) the plane will make its way towards the Golden Gate Bridge, soaring high above it until 8:30 pm (UTC-7). Landing is expected around 11:00 pm PDT (UTC-7) at Moffett Airfield.

If you’re in the Bay area, we highly encourage you to grab your binoculars, go to the Golden Gate Bridge and try to spot the solar bird! You can also follow Solar Impulse’s flight path directly on their website or on your mobile phone as an interactive map will be on the homepage for the duration of the flight.

“Bear” the Solar Impulse mascot is a co-pilot on every flight. Credit: Dale Cruikshank

For those of you that are interested in following future flights and the 2013 Across America mission don’t forget to sign up as a Friend of the project! By becoming a Friend you will automatically join a global community of pioneers and your name will be personally carried by the pilots inside the cockpit across the United States! You will also be part of their exclusive mailing list, providing you with the latest information directly in your inbox.

By joining this people-powered movement challenging conventional thinking and inspiring innovation, hope and action among citizens and policymakers, you too can start promoting this pioneering spirit! Hurry up and be part of a clean generation! You can sign up for FREE at to continue following and supporting the project.

Check out all the latest info at

Posted by:Soderman/NLSI Staff
Source: NASA /

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