Switzerland's Solar Impulse is ramping up for its next flight--this one designed to see how well it plays with other aircraft.
With weather conditions expected to be favorable, Solar Impulse co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg will fly the solar plane from its home base in Payerne, Switzerland, tomorrow between 8 and 11 a.m. Central European Summer Time and land at Geneva between 12:30 and 1 p.m.
After Borschberg and fellow Solar Impulse founder Bertrand Piccard speak with the media and invited guests for a special information session, Borschberg will pilot the plane back home to Payerne around 3:30 p.m., landing by 6:30 p.m. Then if the weather cooperates, the plane will take off again on Wednesday and head toward Zurich.
The new flight will test the plane to see how it handles itself in the middle of large international airports and busy air traffic. That's a key goal for the project team since the craft will likely have to share air space with much faster and larger jets as its flights become longer. Toward that end, Borschberg will practice take-offs and landings at two of Switzerland's busiest airports.
This latest flight was originally scheduled to take off earlier this month, but bad weather conditions have kept it stuck on the ground. The Solar Impulse completed its first 24-hour day-and-night flight in early July. Next on the agenda is a flight across the Atlantic in 2011, followed by an around-the-world trip in 2012 using the HB-SIB prototype being built this summer.