Solar Impulse 2 grounded until 2016
Following its record-breaking flight from Japan to Hawaii, Solar Impulse will not set off on the next leg until it has undergone maintenance repairs to its batteries.
Having completed the longest and most difficult leg of the Round the World Solar Flight, the solar powered airplane of pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg unfortunately suffered battery damage due to overheating.
On the ascent on the first day of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperatures increased too much due to over-insulation. While the Mission Team monitored the aeroplane’s performance very closely during this mission leg, they had no way of decreasing the temperature. The nature of the flight requires Solar Impulse to ascend to 28,000 feet and then descend for energy management issues in every daily cycle.
The damage to certain parts of the batteries is irreversible and will require repairs and replacements that will take several weeks to work through. In parallel, the Solar Impulse engineering team is looking at various options for better management of the cooling and heating process for very long flights.
Solar Impulse is attempting the first ever Round-The-World solar flight to inspire innovation and pioneering spirit and encourage the adoption of clean technologies, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Having started in Abu Dhabi in early March, SI has completed eight legs so far, covering nearly 18,000km in its round the world journey. The rest of the legs, it is looking increasingly likely, will not happen until 2016.