Factor has been given rare access to a solar plane that will be flown around the world in 2015.
Bertrand Piccard, Solar Impulse president, initiator and pilot, plans to fly around the world in the latest solar powered aeroplane that his company has built next year.
With a balloonist and undersea explorer for father and grandfather respectively, Piccard is no stranger to epic journeys.
In 1999 he became the first man to circumnavigate the globe non-stop in a balloon, a feat that earned him a slew of awards and honours.
The latest iteration of the plane, Solar Impulse 2, will be flown around the world over a period of five months, stopping in various locations for a month at a time.
In total the plane will be in the air for around 25 days, with each leg of the journey being meticulously planned and simulated before it’s completed.
However Piccard said that the challenges to complete the flight are vast and range from political to more obvious considerations such as the weather.
“What keeps us up at night is everything. Nobody has done it before. There is no benchmark. Absolutely everything is new,” he said.
In 2010 the first iteration of the plane completed a 24 hour flight and has also flown overnight as it stores energy harvested from the solar panels in on-board batteries.
Piccard said: “We can say that Solar Impulse has the technology of yesterday, Solar Impulse 2 has the technology of tomorrow.”
The aim for future developments of the plane would be to create a solar powered plane that is able to fly around the world non-stop, Piccard said.
Factor viewed the plane today in Switzerland, and will feature it fully in the January edition of our digital magazine.