Bertrand Piccard was captain of the first non-stop round the world balloon flight in 1999. Now he plans on piloting the Solar Impulse in the first non-stop circumglobal solar powered airplane flight in 2010.
The plane will have an 80 metre wingspan, with ultra-thin solar cells integrated into the wings. The problem, as always- is the batteries- they are currently planning to use lithium batteries mounted in the wings. These have to have an energy density of at least 200 watt-hours per kilogram to hold enough power to keep the plane up all night, yet continue to work in -60 degree Celsius temperatures.
The project is seen "as a catalyst for scientific research in the field of composite structures, lightweight, so-called intelligent materials, and in ways of producing and storing energy. These results will be utilised as much in the construction of the plane, as later in various other applications useful to society." ::Solar Impulse via ::Inhabitat