The plans to get the Solar Impulse off the ground got a boost this week. The Solar Impulse is a solar-powered airplane that Swiss adventurer Betrand Piccard plans to take on a round-the-world trip. Piccard has been working to raise funds for the project and so far they have raised $60 million but need $90 million for the whole project. Piccard, who piloted the first hot-air balloon nonstop around the world in 1999, was in Singapore recently to announce a partnership between his Solar Impulse project and the International Air Transport Association, or IATA. The IATA will provide assistance to ensure the smooth passage of the solar plane around the world.
The project began in 2003 and the first attempt for the flight is planned for 2011. The one-pasenger plane will have a long wingspan of 262.5 feet to provide maximum surface area for the solar cells that will power it. The flight will be conducted in four stages over 15 days, with stops on several continents to switch pilots.