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From Europe to Africa without fuel
- Published: 6/06/2012 at 08:41 AM
- Online news:
A Swiss pilot flew a solar plane from Spain to Morocco Tuesday on the world’s first intercontinental flight in a plane powered by the sun.
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Crew members prepare the Swiss sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse for take off on June 5, 2012 at the Barajas airport in Madrid. AFP
From Europe to Africa without fuel
The Solar Impulse is not your ordinary airplane. It’s huge – comparable in size to an Airbus A340 – but as light as an average family car.
A big reason for the lack of weight is that the Solar Impulse carries no fuel. As its name implies, it is powered by the sun. It wings contain 12,000 solar cells which turn four electrical motors.
Yesterday, the aircraft, piloted by Bertrand Piccard, a 54-year-old psychiatrist and balloonist, took off before dawn from Madrid and flew across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain into Moroccan airspace on the world’s first intercontinental flight in a plane powered by the sun. He landed in Morocco’s capital Rabat after 20 hours in the air.
The Solar Impulse in flight last Thursday on its way to Madrid. AFP
The voyage, 2,500 kilometres overall, was also intended as a rehearsal for Solar Impulse’s round-the-world flight planned for 2014.
“For one hour I had the full moon on my right and I had the sunrise on my left and that was absolutely gorgeous,” Piccard told AFP in an interview from the cockpit shortly after setting out.
“I had all the colours of the rainbow in the sky and also on the ground.”
After more than 10 hours’ flight, Piccard had climbed to more than 5,500 metres (18,000 feet).
Flying at some 45 kilometres per hour in the freezing, high altitude, he needed an oxygen mask to breathe.
Each of the motors on the carbon-fibre craft charges 400-kilogramme lithium polymer batteries during the day, allowing the aircraft to carry on flying after dark.
“The question is not to use solar power for normal airplanes,” Piccard explained.
“The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals, with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air, of course everybody can do it on the ground.”
Adapted from an AFP agency story
crew – a group of people who work together to do a job กลุ่มคนที่ทำงานร่วมกัน
solar – involving the sun เกี่ยวกับดวงอาทิตย์
impulse – a force or movement of energy that causes something else to react แรงกระตุ้น, แรงผลักดัน
take off – to cause an aircraft to go into the air and start flying บินขึ้น (เครื่องบิน)
ordinary – not unusual or different in any way ธรรมดา, ปกติ
huge – very large ใหญ่โต
comparable – similar to somebody/something else and able to be compared ที่สามารถเปรียบเทียบกันได้
light – not heavy เบา,ไม่หนัก
average – the amount, level, standard etc that is typical of a group of people or things; typical; ordinary ค่าเฉลี่ย, ส่วนเฉลี่ย, ธรรมดา
lack of – when there is little of something or not enough of something ขาด
imply – to suggest that you think something without saying it directly บอกเป็นนัย, แสดงนัย
psychiatrist – a doctor who treats people with mental illnesses จิตแพทย์
dawn – the beginning of the day, when it begins to get light รุ่งอรุณ, เช้าตรู่
strait – a narrow passage of water that connects two seas or large areas of water ช่องแคบ
intercontinental – between continents ระหว่างทวีป
capital – the most important town or city of a country, usually where the central government operates from เมืองหลวง
voyage – a long journey การเดินทางอันยาวไกล
intended – planned; wanted to happen ที่ได้วางแผนไว้ ที่ตั้งใจให้เกิดขึ้น
rehearsal – practice for something before doing it การซักซ้อม
absolutely – completely อย่างแน่นอน, อย่างแท้จริง
gorgeous – very beautiful and attractive โอ่อ่า, สง่างาม
cockpit – enclosed space for a pilot in an airplane ที่นั่งคนขับ
rainbow – a curved band of different colours that appears in the sky when the sun shines through rain รุ้ง, รุ้งกินน้ำ, แถบสีหลายสีเรียงกัน
altitude – height above sea level ความสูงเหนือระดับน้ำทะเล
mask – something that you wear to cover part or all of your face หน้ากาก
normal – typical, usual or ordinary; what you would expect ภาวะปกติ
demonstrate – to show something and explain how it works สาธิต
achieve – to succeed in doing something very good or difficult บรรลุผลสำเร็จ
incredible – difficult to believe ไม่น่าเชื่อ
goal – aim; purpose เป้าหมาย จุดมุ่งหมาย
awareness – the state of knowing about something การรับรู้, การทราบ
About the author
- Writer: Terry Fredrickson
Position: Education Marketing and Support Manager