Pilots Andre Borschberg (left) and Bertrand Piccard (right) pose next to the Solar Impulse 2 plane.
Credit: Solar Impulse
Two Swiss pilots who will attempt to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane are planning to give the public a virtual tour of their high-tech ride today (April 10).
André Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard will host a guided tour of their newly unveiled solar plane, named Solar Impulse 2, on the group's Google+ page. The live Google+ Hangout, called "Walk Around Solar Impulse 2," will begin at 1:45 p.m. EDT (7:45 p.m. local time in Switzerland).
Borschberg and Piccard will use Google Glass devices to interact with the Hangout participants, answer questions from viewers and share unique views of aircraft, Solar Impulse representatives said. [Images: Cross-Country Flight in a Solar-Powered Plane]
The Solar Impulse pilots and co-founders introduced the new solar plane to the public yesterday (April 9), as part of a glitzy event held in Payerne, Switzerland.
In 2015, Borschberg and Piccard will try to fly the Solar Impulse 2 around the world in five consecutive days without using any fuel.
The plane is the first to be able to fly day and night without needing any onboard fuel, company representatives said. The lightweight, carbon-fiber vehicle is powered entirely by solar panels and batteries, which use sunlight to charge during the day to enable the plane to fly even when the sun goes down.
Last year, Borschberg and Piccard flew a first-generation prototype of the Solar Impulse plane on a coast-to-coast expedition across the United States. The journey from California to New York took two months, and included five planned stops along the way. Solar Impulse ended its cross-country flight in New York, touching down at John F. Kennedy International Airport on July 6, 2013.
Now, the pilots have set their sights on a more ambitious goal: to circumnavigate the globe using only solar power. The initiative is designed to raise awareness about sustainability, and to demonstrate the vast potential of clean energy technologies.
"Solar Impulse is one example of what we can do when we believe that we can achieve the impossible, and this brings hope," Piccard said at the plane's unveiling today. "But part of this hope is about clean technologies — technologies that allow [us] to protect humankind."
Engineers will spend the next month performing stringent tests on the Solar Impulse 2. Borschberg and Piccard are aiming to begin their around-the-world journey in March 2015.