“Imagine airplanes powered only by energy from the sun, some so light they can be launched from the ground by hand, others gathered in giant ‘parking lots’ in the stratosphere. 

Those are the types of aircraft being developed now that are bringing the dream of solar- powered flight closer to reality, with planes that act very differently from the jetliners of today. 

Solar-powered planes won’t be flying people to their next vacation spot anytime soon. But these prototypes, most of which operate without humans, could lead to new alternatives for aerial surveillance on high-risk missions and emergency telecommunications in disaster zones, industry executives say. Aviation giants, telecommunication companies, venture investors and military agencies are already spending millions of dollars developing the planes and their technologies.”

From Wall Street Journal.