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Finding a hangar to house an aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not an easy task. The Solar Impulse team had to design an inflatable mobile hangar in order to have a place to store their solar-powered plane on their 2015 circumnavigation of the globe.
The Solar Impulse aircraft has such a light weight that it is very susceptible to damage from inclimate weather conditions. The team anticipated that every airport they visit on their trip around the world would unlikely have the means to house their plane. The inflatable hangar that they designed can be taken with them to whatever airport they land at.
The wingspan of the Solar Impulse aircraft is 208 feet. The inflatable hangar was built to have a length of 289 feet, width of 105 feet, and a height of 36 feet. The mobile inflatable hangar is constructed from a textile material that is strong enough to withstand winds of up to 62 mph. At the same time, the material is thin enough to be translucent enough to allow sunlight to come through to charge the aircraft’s batteries.
The inflatable hangar had to be deployed for the first time this year, when the hangar it was supposed to be housed in at the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport was damaged by a storm. The hangar is supposed to take 12 people six hours to deploy, but the team was able to get it up in just a few hours