Electric planes haven't yet become the conventional choice because they're not exactly known for their speeds. For example, solar-powered electric plane Solar Impulse has four motors reaching only 8 horsepower, enough for an average speed of 43.5mph. So when Italian astronaut Maurizio Cheli flew the electric-powered SkySpark earlier this month, it was pleasantly surprising to find out that it has set the speed record for electric planes.
Last June 8, SkySpark soared the skies for eight minutes and hit a speed of 155 mph - the fastest yet for an electric plane. The short flight held during the World Air Games 2009 in Italy was SkySpark's first, and it couldn't be any more successful. SkySpark is a two-seater plane with a 75-kW electric motor and lithium ion batteries that supply the plane's energy. Having been able to successfully make an electric plane that works, the SkySpark team is moving on to creating a hydrogen fuel cell-powered aircraft. The team was formed in 2007 to design and build working prototypes of eco-friendly airplanes, with the aim of setting records to be beaten by others in the same field.
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