The first manned aircraft that can fly day and night powered entirely by solar energy was to leave Texas for Missouri on Monday, and will use a “revolutionary” inflatable hangar to replace one damaged in last week’s Midwest tornadoes.
Powerful storms that hit the St. Louis, Missouri area late Friday rendered Solar Impulse’s hangar at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport unusable, organizers of its current US flight said.
As it sets out on the third leg of its US flight, a statement said that “to protect the aircraft upon landing… Solar Impulse will deploy a revolutionary inflatable structure for the first time” when it arrives in Missouri early Tuesday.
The Solar Impulse project, founded and led by two Swiss pilots, aims to showcase what can be accomplished without fossil fuels, and has set as its “ultimate goal” an around-the-world flight in 2015.
The first leg of Solar Impulse’s US tour took place on May 3, when Swiss aviator Bertrand Piccard flew the aircraft from the San Francisco, California area to Phoenix.
On that initial leg, the plane—which has a slim body and four electric engines attached to enormous wings—flew at an average speed of about 30 miles (49 kilometers) per hour.
The aircraft set a new distance record on May 23 when it landed after the second leg of a cross-country US tour.
Read more at: Phys.org