Bertrand Piccard, who hails from a lineage of record-breaking explorers (his gramps was the inspiration for Professor Calculus in the Tintin comics while his dad went seven miles deep down into the Pacific Ocean), assembled a 80-strong team of engineers and technicians who have emerged with the Solar Impulse, a majestic solar-powered glider that weighs just 3,500 pounds.
It comes with 208-foot wings and four lithium polymer batteries to store energy from nearly 12,000 solar cells. By day, these batteries accumulate energy with the plane climbing up to 30,000 feet; at sunset, it glides to lower altitudes on stored power. Test flights have already started. It sounds cool. It looks cool. It’s cool.