The all-electric Solar Impulse 2 plane left America’s shores tonight and began what’s expected to be a 90-hour trip across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain.
This 3,600-mile leg of the solar-powered, round-the-world flight ranks as the longest single stretch since last summer’s Japan-to-Hawaii trip. During that earlier flight, Solar Impulse’s batteries overheated – forcing a months-long delay to make repairs and wait for the return of temperate weather.
The Swiss-led team says it has upgraded the batteries and added a cooling system to guard against a repeat. Nevertheless, this week’s over-ocean trip is likely to pose the biggest challenge left for the 15-month odyssey.
The fuel-free plane took off just after 2:30 a.m. ET Monday (11:30 p.m. PT Sunday) from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, with Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard in the cockpit. His destination is Seville, which is near Spain’s Atlantic coast and the Strait of Gibraltar.