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OUR STORY

In the footsteps of the great aeronautical firsts, Solar Impulse intends to achieve the First Round-The-World Solar Flight in 2015, after 12 years of research, tests and development. No fuel, but only solar energy and technologies of the future, to prove that pioneering spirit and innovation can really change the world.

EXPLORATION TO CHANGE THE WORLD

The Solar Impulse pioneers have set out to achieve something that still seems impossible today: the First Round-The-World Solar Flight, powered only by the sun, with no fuel or polluting emissions. 

Our aim: Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg do not plan to revolutionize the aviation industry but instead to demonstrate that the actual alternative energy sources and new technologies can achieve what some consider impossible. Solar Impulse wants to mobilize public enthusiasm in favor of technologies that will allow decreased dependance on fossil fuels, and induce positive emotions about renewable energies.

Solar Impulse also wants to encourage and inspire each and every one of us to become pioneers and explorers in our own lives, and to invent a brighter future.

Solar Impulse 1

AT THE CONTROLS

The Pilots: two pioneers and innovators, both pilots, came together to drive forward Solar Impulse: Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The former’s avant-gardist vision and skills as a communicator and the latter’s entrepreneurial experience complement each other ideally.

- Bertrand Piccard, the doctor, psychiatrist, explorer and aeronaut who made the first ever non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, is its founder and chairman. With Solar Impulse, Bertrand Piccard is continuing his family's history of adventure, from the exploration of the stratosphere (Auguste Piccard) and the ocean depths (Jacques Piccard) to his own round-the-world balloon flight. 

- André Borschberg, engineer by education and graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in management science, a trained fighter pilot and professional airplane and helicopter pilot, is the CEO.

Team and Partners: the Solar Impulse team is about 90 people, including 30 engineers, 25 technicians and 22 mission controllers, supported financially and technologically by over a hundred partners and advisers.

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MASDAR

HOST PARTNER IN ABU DHABI

 

Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company which works to advance the development, commercialization and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions.

The company serves ...

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MASDAR

HOST PARTNER IN ABU DHABI

 

Masdar is Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company which works to advance the development, commercialization and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions.

The company serves as a link between today’s fossil fuel economy and the energy economy of the future. Wholly owned by the Mubadala Development Company PJSC, the strategic investment company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar is dedicated to the Emirates’ long-term vision for the future of energy and water.

The relationship between Masdar and Solar Impulse started in 2003 from a common perspective shared between the UAE leadership and the Solar Impulse founders Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The goal is to promote technological values together to preserve the planet’s resources, in a bid to encourage political leaders and organisations to adopt cleaner and more efficient technologies.

Masdar has been tasked by the government with investing in and advancing the renewable energy and clean technology industry both domestically and internationally. 

 

“Abu Dhabi, Masdar and Solar Impulse have in common a pioneering spirit, a long-term vision and a desire to explore new horizons. We share a commitment to foster the development of technological advances in alternative energy sources in order to contribute to a cleaner, more sustainable future.” 
H. E. Dr. Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE minister of state and chairman of Masdar.

I’d been looking forward to this moment impatiently! After all the missions flown in the first prototype Solar Impulse, I’ve finally got my hands on the controls of Si2, the actual round-the-world plane.

Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological ...

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Since Markus, our test pilot, first flew it in June, followed by André about ten days ago, my impatience became more and more difficult to contain! When I climbed into the cockpit, I felt a mixture of excitement, concentration, and gratitude to all the team who had contributed to the construction of this technological gem.

To familiarize myself with the aircraft, I started by doing some taxi trials on the runway. Then came the moment to set full power on all four electric motors… and to feel my heart-rate speed up slightly. Once I heard Nils, the ground team chief, say "Main wheel lift-off" in my headset, I could start an hour-long taming of this huge 72 meter wingspan monster. Nothing is done as in a normal plane, so the simulator training sessions really paid off. Then, I had to demonstrate three touchdowns in order to convince Raymond Clerc, my flight instructor. Followed by a champagne celebration with the team!

There is one other thing I wanted to share with you: the beautiful lighting of this sunset over Lake Neuchâtel

This flight was a key milestone in the final run-up to the round-the-world flight. But next year’s adventure will be much more difficult, with flights of up to 5 consecutive days and nights! Today, at least we know that André and I are ready to attempt it.

The best pictures of my first flight are online!

 

 

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