Solar Impulse HB-SIA has taken off for its first night flight
At 06:51 this morning, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from the Payerne airbase with André Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, at the controls.
“For 7 years now, the whole team has been passionately working to achieve this first decisive step of the project», said André Borschberg a few minutes before easing himself into the cockpit for a flight expected to last until next morning.
The whole day long, up to about 19:30, the prototype will be slowly ascending to an altitude of 8,500 metres, while at the same time charging its batteries in preparation for the night flight. When the sun’s rays stop being strong enough to supply the solar cells (about two hours before sunset) with energy, the HB-SIA will start a slow descent, reaching an altitude of around 1,500 metres by 23:00.
It should then carry on flying, using the energy stored in its batteries, until the next sunrise. The big question is whether the pilot can make efficient use of the battery energy to fly throughout the night. If this mission is successful, it will be the longest and highest flight ever made by a solar plane.