Members of the public are able to adopt cells on manned solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse ahead of its round-the-world flight in 2011, and in Arizona an unmanned solar-powered plane is close to completing a 14-day nonstop voyage and proving the possibility of perpetual flight.
Solar Impulse is a manned solar-powered plane which completed its first 26-hour, nonstop flight on July 8. The plane's 63.4 meter wings are lined with 11 628 solar cells which give the aircraft an average flying speed of 70 km/h and a maximum altitude of 8500 meters.
Plans are currently being developed for a round-the-world flight next year and consumers are being offered a chance to be part of the project with a variety of supporters' programs.
For €135 ($175) members of the public can ‘adopt' one of the remaining 10,748 unclaimed solar cells on the wing of the aircraft and personalize it online with their name, photo or national flag; for €6,650 ($8,633) customers can have their name inscribed on the Solar Impulse's fuselage. Participants will also receive a variety of associated benefits such as news and regular updates. Solar cells can be adopted at www.solarimpulse.com
In America an unmanned solar aircraft named the Zephyr is close to completing a constant 14-day flight using only solar energy. The plane has currently been flying for one and a half weeks in the Arizona desert and has already broken a number of world records.
Currently the Zephyr intends to remain airborne until Friday, July 23, which at 14:40 BST will bring the plane's total flying time to 14 days. A spokesperson for the plane's solar technology providers, QinetiQ said that the Zephyr will prove the possibility of perpetual flight.
Though the plane is part of a US military project footage of the craft is available on youtube.com at http://www.youtube.com/user/QinetiQGroup