Solar Impulse 2 Departs Hawaii


Solar Impulse 2 departed Hawaii Thursday morning bound for Mountain View, California, with one of the team’s two pilots, Bertrand Piccard,at the controls of the single-seat aircraft. This leg is expected to last about two and a half days. The four-motor, single-seat airplane took a nine-month hiatus in Hawaii, where battery overheating issues from its last flight from Japan halted the project until replacements could be manufactured, installed and tested before resuming the trip. The aircraft’s solar panels charge packs of batteries during daylight hours to allow flight to continue at night.

Andre Borschberg, who last flew Solar Impulse 2 in July on a record-breaking five-day trip from Japan to Hawaii, told USA Today the project has shown what the aviation industry told him “was not possible” with current flight technology — prolonged high-altitude flight using solar energy instead of fuel. Borschberg said the Solar Impulse team is now looking ahead to its next step, an unmanned aircraft that could fly for six months or a year in the stratosphere for communications, observation and scientific work. Thursday’s flight progress can be tracked on the Solar Impulse website here.