Solar Impulse Bathroom Mystery Solved

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Solar Impulse flies very slowly – it took the solar-powered airplane more than 18 hours to travel 650 miles from the Bay Area to Phoenix – and the cockpit is so small, the pilot can’t ever get up from his seat. Which raises the delicate question of how certain human functions are addressed while in flight.

We have the answer.

In a video released yesterday by the Swiss team, the “How do they go to the toilet?” mystery was solved. (As was the mystery: Do the Swiss have a sense of humor?)

Now, one thing you might be thinking is, OK, that water bottle takes are of one type of excretion. But what about, you know, number two action?

Well, Solar Impulse says that’s an eventuality the pilot, be it André Borschberg or Bertrand Piccard, takes action to prevent from ever becoming an issue: “During long journeys, pilots prepare by eating a diet low in fiber so that the plastic water bottle will be sufficient,” the team said. “The second airplane under development will have a more advanced solution to support longer flights.”

The Solar Impulse team has been ensconced in Phoenix since just after midnight on May 4. A week or so had been planned for Phoenix for promotional activities, but the team has had to extend its layover until at least next Monday, waiting for a good weather window on the route to Dallas.

UPDATE: Oops, the earliest time of departure for Dallas has been pushed to Tuesday, May 21.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.