Solar Impulse finally takes off from Hawaii

Solar Impulse finally took off to continue its round-the-world flight. The solar-powered airplane took off at 6:15 a.m. Hawaii time and is expected to land in California 62 hours later.

Solar Impulse co-founder Betrand Piccard is piloting the Pacific crossing. The solar-powered airplane, which is capable of flying day and night powered only be the energy of the sun, is expected to land at the Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, California, on 23 April. The flight will take around three days, depending on the weather conditions.

Solar Impulse had to interrupt its historic round-the-world flight in July 2015 because the batteries overheated on the record-breaking flight from Japan to Hawaii: piloted by co-founder André Borschberg, the flight took five days and five nights to cover 8,900 kilometres.

It took longer than expected to replace the battery system, and the airplane had to remain grounded in Hawaii over the winter months when the hours of sunshine in the northern Hemisphere are at their lowest.

Solar Impulse is attempting to circumnavigate the globe without using a drop of fuel. Across the main wing, fuselage and horizontal stabiliser, 17’248 solar cells power the four lithium batteries, which in turn power the four motors and propellers, allowing the airplane to fly through the night towards the next dawn.

Like the first Pacific crossing last July, the leg from Hawaii to Japan is a challenge for machine and man alike. “Every morning you have the suspense of knowing how much energy is left in your batteries. Then, with the sunrise comes the virtuous circle of perpetual flight,” says Piccard.

According to a press release, while both Piccard and Borschberg take turns piloting the airplane – which only has room for one person in the cockpit – they have different roles within the project. Piccard outlines the project’s vision, philosophy and political reach, while Borschberg manages the team that designed and constructed the airplane and drives the technological innovations into new engineering solutions.

“The primary purpose of this adventure is to demonstrate that modern clean technologies can achieve the impossible and encourage everyone to use these same energy efficient solutions on the ground in their daily lives for mobility, construction, lighting, heating, cooling and more,” says Piccard of the project’s goal.

After the flight reaches California, it will fly to New York and then to either Europe or North Africa before concluding its world solar adventure in Abu Dhabi.

 

Image credit: © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.ch

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