The Solar Impulse project aims to achieve the first round-the-world flight powered only by the sun. Can it be done? Principals of the Swiss-based project Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg think so. And while the duo isn’t planning to revolutionize commercial flight, they do believe they can demonstrate that alternative energy sources and state-of-the-art clean technologies can achieve what might immediately seem impossible. And on top of that tall order, they hope to inspire individuals to become pioneers and explorers in their own realm to invent a brighter future and help preserve the planet in the process.
Pioneers and Innovators
Piccard and BorschBerg, two pioneers and innovators, who are also pilots, came together on this project. Piccard, a doctor, psychiatrist, explorer and aeronaut who traveled around the world in a balloon flight, is the founder and chairman. Borschberg, an engineer and graduate of MIT, as well as a Swiss-trained fighter pilot, is the CEO. But their team, as a whole, comprises about ninety people, including thirty engineers, twenty-five technicians and twenty-two mission controllers. In addition, one hundred partners and advisers support the project financially and technologically.
Project Support from Omega
Omega, in its role as one of the project’s main supporters, has been involved in developing several new and improved technologies for the Solar Impulse 2—the team’s second solar-powered airplane— which incorporates lessons learned from the prototype Solar Impulse 1. The enhancements include a lighter landing light consuming only ten watts each, but with light intensity equivalent to a 200-watt incandescent bulb. Omega is also responsible for an upgraded lightweight version of the Omega Instrument, which indicates the degree of inclination of the airplane, and an energy dispatcher that transfers energy from one engine to another in the event one experiences an energy deficiency.
Omega has also come up with lightweight electronics inside the plane’s dashboard. The Omega Speedmaster Skywalker X-33, a multi-function quartz watch, also grew out of this association. Solar Impulse 2 took its maiden flight on Monday June 2 2014 in Payerne, Switzerland.
After the Solar Impulse prototype’s achievement of eight world records, which includes the distinction of being the first solar airplane to fly through the night between two continents and across the United States, the around- the-world trip became the overriding focus of the team. The Solar Impulse 2 expedition will took place over five months, beginning in March and ending in July 2015.