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Solar Impulse is grounded in Hawaii for battery repairs

11 July 2015

Following its record breaking trans-Pacific flight of five days and five nights, Solar Impulse will remain in Hawaii as repairs are carried out on its batteries.

Solar Impulse 2 with André Borschberg at the controls on its approach to Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii (photo courtesy of Solar Impulse/Revillard/Rezo.ch)

  With the longest and most difficult leg of the Round the World Solar Flight behind it, the solar powered aircraft of Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg has suffered battery damage due to overheating, and Solar Impulse is unlikely to continue onward for the next leg of its journey until the beginning of August.

During the first ascent on day one of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the battery temperature
rose above normal due to what the Solar Impulse team described as 'over-insulation'. While the mission team monitored this during the Pacific leg, there was no way to decrease the temperature for the remaining duration of the flight as each daily cycle required an ascent to 28,000 feet and descent for energy management issues.

The damage to certain parts of the batteries is described as 'irreversible' and will require repairs and replacements that will take several weeks to work through. At the same time, the Solar Impulse engineering team will look at various options for better management of the cooling and heating processes associated with long flights.

Having started its round-the-world mission in Abu Dhabi in early March, Solar Impulse has completed eight legs, covering nearly 18,000kms.


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