Solar Impulse begins four-day Atlantic crossing

Image: Solar Impulse takeoff

The Solar Impulse 2 airplane takes off from New York’s JFK Airport. (Credit: Solar Impulse)

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.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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