Can it fly around the world without a drop of fuel?
Can it fly around the world without a drop of fuel? The Swiss-built solar aircraft took off from Muscat in Oman (Reuters)
Can it fly around the world without a drop of fuel?
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A Swiss solar-powered plane took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Monday, marking the start of the first attempt to fly around the world without a drop of fuel.

Solar Impulse founder Andr Borschberg was at the controls of the single-seater when it took off from the Al Bateen Executive Airport. Borschberg will trade off piloting with Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard during stop-overs on a journey that will take months to complete.

The Swiss pilots say their aim is to create awareness about replacing "old polluting technologies with clean and efficient technologies."

The plane is expected to reach its first destination Muscat, Oman after about 10 hours of flight.

Some legs of the trip, such as over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, will mean five or six straight days of flying.

The lightweight Solar Impulse 2, a larger version of a single-seat prototype that first flew five years ago, is made of carbon fiber and has 17,248 solar cells built into the wing that supply the plane with renewable energy. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries.

The company says the plane has a 236-foot wingspan, larger than that of the Boeing 747, but weighs about as much as an SUV at around 5,070 pounds.

The plane, in June, made an inaugural flight of two hours and 17 minutes above western Switzerland, just two months after it was unveiled.

After Oman, the plane will head to India, where it will make two stops, then to China and Myanmar before heading across the Pacific and stopping in Hawaii. Then it will head to Phoenix, Ariz., and New York's biggest airport, John F. Kennedy International. The path across the Atlantic will depend on the weather and could include a stop in southern Europe or Morocco before ending in Abu Dhabi.

The round-the-world trip is expected to end in late July or even August.

Borschberg and Piccard say they want to push politicians, celebrities and private citizens to "confront the Conference on Climate Change of the United Nations, which will define the new Kyoto protocol in December 2015 in Paris." All countries are supposed to present targets for a new global climate agreement that governments plan to adopt at the meeting.

Critical thinking challenge: Why will it take so long to fly over the Atlantic Ocean?

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Assigned 11 times

  • DD2001basketball
    3/13/2015 - 08:49 a.m.

    It will take so long to fly over the Atlanta ocean because sometimes theres no light from the sun out in the ocean. So it cannot get enough solar power.

  • ahuntingvvc
    3/13/2015 - 08:58 a.m.

    I think this is going to be a brand new invention for the future. This goes to show how smart people are and what people can do. I think this will help the economy with money because, the government wont have to put all that money into filling up planes. This article is very interesting to me because, it shows me some new ideas I can expect to see in the future.

  • 8ethanr
    3/13/2015 - 12:37 p.m.

    It will take long to fly over the Atlantic because of the sun and its positioning and the wind the weather mostly. This is a big plane the plane its self has a wing span of 236 foot wing span and they are trying to fly over the hole word with out one drop of fuel that is amazing. the plane weighs around 5,070 pounds. it is a single passenger plane so will that make a difference in the speed?

  • 1NolanG
    3/13/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    The solar powered swiss aircraft would take a while to cross the Atlantic ocean because it is not a fast plane. It is running on pure solar power, so it doesnt have much energy to output into speed. I personally am amazed that this is possible. I clicked the page thinking it would be a plane with a big gas tank or something (as in not a drop of refueling) but solar power? Thats great. This essential question makes me think of other questions, like are there areas that get more sunlight that could super boost the plane? Would flying higher catch more sunlight?

  • Garrett90
    3/13/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    It is amazing that they made a solar powered plane and it only weighs as much as a SUV but what about when it's the size of a 747 then it won't weigh as much as an SUV or what about when it goes chemical and it needs more power than it can produce and gives it to the passengers and not the plane and it goes down.

  • JacobM-5
    3/13/2015 - 05:12 p.m.

    This article talked about a plane that has a goal to ride around the whole world without using one drop of fuel. This plane uses solar power to create its energy. It will be going on a trip that has a expected time of 2-3 months. It will stop in places like Hawaii, India, and will come back to the original airport in the UAE. If this is a successful mission then it is expected other countries will join.

  • ShaniaWentz-Ste
    3/15/2015 - 06:12 p.m.

    I love the feeling of being thrown around in the air and pretending to fly. However, airplanes scare me. With all the threats, wrecks, mis-landings, and everything else that goes wrong with them, I'm half scared just to stand by one. But, flying on one that runs strictly on solar power is just plain out terrifying. I will never, ever, ever ride something like that, no matter how cheap it is or how much I would get payed.

  • SydneyL-Kut
    3/15/2015 - 07:43 p.m.

    I believe that if they make it around the world according to plan, then it will push more people to want to start building planes like that. I think that it will show people that there are ways to fly and decrease pollution. That way, people could try and build more solar-powered planes that hold more people, and maybe start replacing the planes we have now.

  • jonahh-Koc
    3/16/2015 - 01:43 a.m.

    It will take so long because the plane flies so slow. It has to move slow because it is powered by sunlight so the engines that power it have to use energy efficiently.

  • McConnellN-Tan
    3/16/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    If this plane can fly around the world without one single drop of fuel, then we could save lots of money for not having to pay for gas every time we use a plane. This will be Eco friendly and the planet might last longer if we lower the gas intake of vehicles.

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