A 100% solar-powered airplane aims to be the first in history to fly around the world.
“An airplane does not exist like this anywhere else [in the world],” Piccard explains in the segment. The Solar Impulse is the world’s first completely solar-powered plane that can fly at night, and has already broken the record for the longest fully solar-powered flight.
Piccard came up with the idea for the Solar Impulse after he completed the world’s first non-stop circumnavigation of the world in a balloon. After using almost three tons of fuel during his trip, Piccard knew he wanted to try and create a cleaner way to travel. "It was almost a failure due to the dependency on fuel,” he said. “On that day, I made a promise that the next time I would fly around the world, it would be with no fuel at all."
Along with his business partner Andres Borschberg, Piccard announced plans for the Solar Impulse in 2004. Made with 12,000 solar cells, extremely light materials which make it weigh less than an SUV, and wheels that are smaller than those on a tricycle, the plane was unveiled in 2009. In July 2010, the Solar Impulse completed a 26-hour flight, the first of its kind in the history of solar navigation.
The entrepreneurs are now planning a round-the-world flight for 2015, which is expected to take 20 days and 20 nights. Despite concerns over the risky endeavor, Piccard is already ready for the historic event. “Everything you do, you have to do it because you are well-prepared and absolutely calm inside yourself.”