Why This Solar-Powered Plane’s Record-Breaking Mission Is Paused



André Borschberg remains confident even if his dream is delayed until April 2016.

On July 3, Solar Impulse 2, the first around-the-world aircraft solely powered by the sun, landed in Hawaii after its flight from Japan. After five days (117 hours and 52 minutes,) the aircraft’s batteries overheated, causing an enormous speed bump in a vision to break the world record.

SEE ALSO: This Solar-Powered Aircraft Breaks Records From Nanjing To Honolulu

Solar Impulse’s team released a statement in an email:

Despite the hard work of the Solar Impulse team to repair the batteries which overheated in the record breaking oceanic flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the solar powered airplane of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will stay in Hawaii until early spring 2016…While the Mission Team was monitoring [the battery temperature] very closely during the flight, there was no way to decrease the temperature for the remaining duration as each daily cycle requires an ascend to 28,000 feet and descend for optimal energy management.

The plane’s overheated batteries were caused by a high climb rate, and over insulation. The team, however, contends the cooling error to be of human rather than a technological one. In the next several months, they will evaluate various options regarding battery cooling and heating to sustain longer flights.

As of now, the plane is stationed in Hawaii at Kalaeloa Airport for at least a few weeks.

Next year, if the flight continues, Solar Impulse 2 will fly from Hawaii to U.S. West Coast, then to New York, then cross the Atlantic to Europe and finally land in Abu Dhabi, where the mission started.

The Solar Impulse 2 aircraft is a single-seater with the wingspan of HB-SIB is 236 ft, slightly less than that of an Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger airliner, but weighs only 5,100 lb, little more than an average automobile. It features a larger, non-pressurized cockpit and advanced avionics, including an autopilot to allow for multi-day transcontinental and trans-oceanic flights. Supplemental oxygen and various other environmental support systems allow the pilot to cruise up to an altitude of 39,000 ft.

What do you think of Solar Impulse’s halt? Let us know in the comments.


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Categories: In Crowd

Author:Jetset Times

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