Solar Plane’s Trip Across the Globe is Stalled Due to Damaged Battery
This trip was part of a longer journey that attempted to circle the entirety of the globe. The plane took off in March 2015 from the Abu Dhabi airport, and made stops in Oman, China, and Myanmar. Stops in Phoenix, New York, Europe, and Africa were also planned before the emergency stop in Hawaii had to be made.
The Solar Impulse 2 is a carbon-fiber plane that runs entirely on solar power, utilizing the approximate 8.2 million Quads of solar energy that reaches the Earth every year. The solar panels are installed on the wings, and hold around 17,000 solar cells that charge the battery. The plane can also fly at night, using the energy stored in the solar cells. The plane’s average optimal speed is 28 mph, but the Solar Impulse 2 can fly roughly twice as fast during the day when the sun’s rays are at their strongest.
The flight to Japan broke the record for the longest, nonstop solo flight that lasted 4 days, 21 hours, and 52 minutes, and covered a distance of over 4,400 miles. During the trip entirety of the trip, the plane experienced high temperatures that damaged the battery. Chairman of the project and one of the two pilots of the Solar Impulse 2, Bertrand Piccard, did not blame the technology for the unplanned stop, but rather improper judgment of how the batteries would react in high altitudes and balmy weather.
The Solar Impulse 2 will take off to complete the second half of its worldwide trip in April 2015, according to Piccard. Until then, the plane will be stored at the Kalaeloa airport in a University of Hawaii hanger, where it will be repaired and tested for flight before takeoff.