Prince Albert of Monaco attends launch of the new Mission Control Center to guide the solar plane’s first flight around the world.
The countdown has begun. Bertrand Piccard’s and André Borschberg’s solar plane is scheduled to take to the skies from Abu Dhabi in early March. Preparations are in full swing everywhere, including at the new mission control center (MCC) in Monaco. This is where all key flight data will merge via satellite communication links. The MCC personnel will analyze meteorological information, calculate the exact flight path and adjust as necessary, obtain the required takeoff and landing permissions as well as prepare solutions for any technical glitches.
Solar Impulse’s “Guardian Angel”
Twenty engineers and specialists will be monitoring the flight on countless video screens, including Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier. “Monaco is the nerve center of our undertaking,” explains Bertrand Piccard, one of the pilots who will be flying the solar plane, which has 17,000 solar cells built into its seventy-two meter wing. He and the other pilot, André Borschberg, will alternate during the flight. “The crew here will act collectively as our guardian angel. We will be in continuous contact with them from the cockpit, and they will tell us what we need to know to make the right decisions.”
Prince Albert of Monaco, whose foundation supported the construction of the new control center, was very impressed when he toured the facility. “This historic circumnavigation using only solar energy will be a dream come true. The flight will demonstrate that science can change the world,” he said in his speech at the event. Although the Solar Impulse undertaking faces many challenges, it also presents a host of opportunities, including scientific ones.
40,000 kilometers on solar power alone
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will take turns piloting the airplane on its 40,000 kilometer journey. It will stop en route in various cities, including Muscat in Oman, Varanasi and Ahmedabad in India, Chongqing and Nanjing in China and Phoenix, Arizona. Stopovers are also planned for Europe and North Africa.
ABB will be there too, as the project’s engineering partner. The Solar Impulse team includes three passionate, highly experienced ABB engineers. Among other things, they will take care of improving the ground operations control systems and optimizing the electronic chargers for the airplane’s battery systems.
Take a look inside the Mission Control Center
Together for a better world
ABB’s enthusiasm for Solar Impulse stems not only from its shared belief in innovation and technology. Solar Impulse’s philosophy is also fully in line with ABB’s efforts to improve efficiency, reduce resource consumption, promote and provide cleaner, sustainable transportation solutions and expand the use of renewable energies, all according to the vision “Power and productivity for a better world”.