On Wednesday, June 10, astronaut Maurizo Cheli set a world record while piloting the fully electric SkySpark. During an eight-minute flight at the World Air Games 2009 in Turin, Italy, he hit a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).
That’s a record speed for a 100-percent electrically powered aircraft.
The SkySpark, which sounds like something out of Transformers, is a specially built Pioneer Alpi 300 aircraft. It’s powered by a 75kW brushless electric motor and lithium polymer batteries. The project is coordinated by DigiSky, an Italian engineering company specializing in aeronautical applications, working in conjunction with Turin Polytechnic University.
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Equipped with a liquid-cooled Valentino synchronous motor by Sicme Motori, the plane has been in development since September of 2007. But according to the SkySpark website this is only an intermediate goal for the plane.
It’s expected that the craft is capable of 186 mph (300 km/h). And while these speeds are barely significant when compared to some conventional planes, the potential is noteworthy nonetheless.
The SkySpark team hopes to keep improving the plane’s performance. Using a “hydrogen fuel cells powered engine,” they plan to increase the planes range…and of course its speed.
Maurizo Cheli , of the European Space Agency, is an experimental test pilot and the former Italian astronaut who flew aboard the NASA space shuttle mission back in 1996 (STS-75).