Nephelios, a Manned Solar-Powered Blimp, Prepares To Cross the English Channel

A year behind schedule, a team of French engineering students is finally preparing to send Nephelios, the solar-powered manned airship they’ve developed, on its maiden voyage across the English channel.

The ambitious project had aimed to accomplish this feat last summer, but ran into budgetary problems. Now, with the ship complete, they’re ready to send it on its hour-long journey from Calais to Dover.

Nephelios is powered by an array of flexible solar panels lining the top of the helium-filled envelope. The panels have a peak power output of 2.4 kilowatts that’s directed to an electric motor powering two propellers. It’s 72 feet long and carries a single passenger at a cruising speed of around 20 miles per hour.

[Project Sol’r [translated from French] via Inhabitat and NOTCOT]