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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.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, 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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