Professor Calculus prepares for historic flight

Dossier ~ Tuesday 3rd March 2015

The Solar Impulse 2 is gearing up for take-off once again. With plans to travel through India, Burma and the United States, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are undertaking the challenge of a lifetime: to fly around the world without burning a drop of fuel.

In January 2015 in Abu Dhabi, the two Swiss promoters of the Solar Impulse 2, Borschberg and Piccard (Bertrand Piccard is the grandson of Auguste Piccard, the Swiss scientist upon whom Hergé modelled Professor Calculus) presented their project to the world: a circumnavigation of the globe that will take 5 months (including 25 days of flight) and span a distance of 35,000 km. The speed of the aircraft will oscillate between 50 and 100 km/h, the only power to the engines being provided by sunlight.

The wings of the Solar Impulse 2 are covered in 17,000 solar panels, which provide energy to the propellers. The aeroplane, 22 metres long and with a wingspan of 72 metres, will be the first to cross the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans only by using solar power.

Setting off from Abu Dhabi, on the first stage of its journey the Solar Impulse 2 will fly to Oman. The next stops will include locations such as Varanasi in India, Mandalay in Burma, Nankin in China, Hawaii, New York and Europe, before returning to Abu Dhabi in the summer.

Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will watch the Earth sail by from an altitude of 8,500 metres, while tucked up in the aircraft's cockpit of 3.8 m3. However, the aircraft can only carry one person; the Swiss team will take it in turns to fly. The cockpit is non-pressurised, without air conditioning and heating, all of which will make the experience a physical and mental challenge for the pilots.

The promoters of the project are keen to broadcast a message to the world: that at the present time, renewable and green energy is making it possible to do things that seemed impossible up until now. On each stopover, the Solar Impulse team will participate in interviews and conferences, as a way to spread this message.

This fantastic project has been 4 years in the making; it would have made Professor Calculus proud!

You can read more that we have published about the Solar Impulse project:

Tintin and Solar Impulse: a family affair
VIDEO – May 2013

Tintin – Solar Impulse - Official presentation
VIDEO – April 2014

Links about Solar Impulse:

https://www.facebook.com/solarimpulse
http://info.solarimpulse.com
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