Solar Impulse, the same company that flew 26,000 miles (40,000 km) without one drop of fuel, has just recently been on record stating their plans to develop and launch a solar-powered satellite that would provide affordable accessibility for Wi-Fi and GSM connections to the masses by leveraging the solar and battery tech in their plane.
You might remember a few months ago when we covered Solar Impulse completing a historical milestone traveling over 26,000 miles in their airplane all off solar energy. As a recap, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg took their Solar Impulse II (SI2) and flew from Abu Dhabi around the world, when eventually landing back in the United Arab Emirates 21 days later. During this journey, they generated over 11,655 kWh of energy with their 17,248 solar panels on top of their 2.3 ton plane.
Now the Switzerland based company is taking all they learned from their experiment and has informally announced their plans to research and develop an unmanned, solar-powered satellite to launch into the stratosphere. Similar to what Google, Facebook and SpaceX are doing.
A few days ago, Fox News had the opportunity to interview Bertrand Piccard, Chairman of Solar Impulse, and get a little more insight into the company’s plans for the future:
“One of the possible spinoffs is to produce an unmanned Solar Impulse to fly 20 kilometers [12.4 miles] high in the stratosphere […]
It’s to provide cheap satellite for Wi-Fi, GSM connections, observation for agriculture – our engineers are working on that now […]
We have a very, very experienced team and we want to use all this expertise, in the technological point of view, to bring something new to the world of low-altitude satellites […]
With solar power it can stay up for years – if you have a problem you can bring it back down, repair, and send it back up.”
Currently there is no specific date or timeframe for when the company plans to unveil or launch the satellite, but according to the interview, Solar Impulse is seeking an industrial partner to assist in producing the craft.
Laslty, Piccard was stated that him, Borschberg, and Co. are working on creating an “International Committee of Clean Technologies (ICCT),” which they hope will provide guidance to governments and corporations on energy policies. The team hopes to have the committee set up by November when the United Nations meet for the climate change conference.
Featured image: In lieu of a photo or render of the satellite, Solar Impulse II, solar-powered airplane