Solar-Powered Plane Halts Its Around-the-World Journey Due to Battery Problems
Proving the impossible to be possible is the stuff of Hollywood movies and dreams and inspiration. But there are also less glamorous aspects to breaking new ground, like having to fix equipment.
The Solar Impulse 2, which is on a mission to prove the potential of solar power by flying around the world, has to take a break from its 12-leg journey to repair its battery pack. on the aircraft. The solar-powered battery overheated during a record-breaking flight from Japan to Hawaii, according to an announcement from co-pilot Bertrand Piccard.
The Solar Impulse will stay in Hawaii for the next few months and continue the round-the-world journey in April of 2016 once the batteries have been fixed.
“Making the impossible happen takes more time than the possible,” says Piccard in a video statement announcing the delay. "Exploration and adventure is not only when you raise the flag with a success, but also when you have delays, problems, doubts and you have to build up a lot of courage inside the team."
The circumnavigation will take two years to complete instead of one.
Solar Impulse is a plane that operates solely on solar power, and its journey around the world is an effort to bring attention to the potential power of the future of solar power. The aircraft is not equipped to carry passengers. It has only one seat but has a 72-meter wingspan, roughly equivalent to a Boeing 747 passenger plane. It’s light as a feather, weighing only 2,300 kilograms, or approximately the weight of a car.
Two Swiss pilots are tag-teaming the flight around the world, which took off in March from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Piccard’s partner, André Borschberg, completed a record-breaking solo flight from Japan to Hawaii in 117 hours and 52 minutes to get the aircraft to Hawaii.
If one cannot cope with disappointment and frustration, one should not aim for exploration and adventure pic.twitter.com/BD64yIouyI— Bertrand PICCARD (@bertrandpiccard) July 13, 2015
New battery parts must be ordered, re-assembled and tested. This is a 2 to 3-month process. Thus, we delay until 2016 pic.twitter.com/8CrqcZaMhJ— SOLAR IMPULSE (@solarimpulse) July 15, 2015
Catherine Clifford is senior entrepreneurship writer at CNBC. She was formerly a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com, the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Clifford attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.