From balloons to space, via solar-powered planes

I like the idea of green technology and saving the planet by being clever. I like electric cars and the idea that we might figure out a way to make renewable energy a competitively-priced alternative to fossil fuels.

So when I see a headline like “Solar-powered plane flying across US“, I click on it.

solar impulse

That’s Solar Impulse, the solar-powered plane that has recently flown from San Francisco to New York using only the power of the sun. It’s cooler than the other side of the pillow.

But a commercial roll-out is a long way off yet, given that the aircraft carries one person and has a top speed of about 50 mph. But as long as the plane and its journeys are making people think and talk about solar power then the mission has been a success.

About the pilots

One of the pilots of Solar Impulse is Bertrand Piccard. He’s one of the last real explorers of this day and age and adventure certainly runs in his family.

He himself was the first man to fly around the world non-stop in a balloon; his father Jacques was the first man to take a submarine to the bottom of the Mariana Trench; his grandfather Auguste was the first man to see the curvature of the earth (from a high-altitude balloon); and of course his great-great-great-grandson Jean-Luc is the captain of the Starship Enterprise.

piccard

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