Faulty Part Delays Solar Impulse Night Flight


The test flight was planned for July 1, but the aircraft that aims to fly around the world, flying day and night on solar (and stored solar) power, hit a snag when a telemetric transmitter failed. The failure would have kept engineers on the ground in the dark, literally and figuratively, when it came to viewing key performance parameters. The July 1 flight would have been the first to test the aircraft and its pilot through a complete 24-hour cycle from daytime and through the night. The team has not formally announced a date for the next attempt, but daylight hours set a deadline in early August. After that, relatively shorter days at Payerne, Switzerland, where the team is based, will prevent a full solar charging of the aircraft’s batteries from powering the aircraft through longer nights.

A blog post at the Solar Impulse website said Thursday that “our engineers continue working on the telemtrie [sic] problems which popped up this morning,” adding, “Friday evening I can give you a next update.” The team had advertised the July 1 date and invited media representatives and onlookers. They may seek to do the same for the second attempt, preventing a July 4 weekend launch — or they may go as soon as they’re able. We’ll see.