Aircraft

Solar Impulse 2 heads for finish line in round-the-world flight

Solar Impulse 2 heads for fini...
Solar Impulse 2 taking off from Cairo International Airport
Solar Impulse 2 taking off from Cairo International Airport
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Solar Impulse 2 taking off from Cairo International Airport
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Solar Impulse 2 taking off from Cairo International Airport

Solar Impulse 2 has taken off on what is expected to be the final leg of its solar-powered round-the-world voyage. Today at 23:28 GMT (July 24, 1:28 am EET), the single-seater aircraft took off from Cairo International Airport with Bertrand Piccard at the controls.

After a ten day layover in Cairo due to pilot illness and poor weather, Solar impulse 2 is now on the 17th leg of its journey, which is expected to end in two days at the starting point in Abu Dhabi.

Tonight's takeoff is the latest in the circumnavigation that began in March 2015 to prove that an experimental solar-powered aircraft could circle the globe. If all goes well, it should cover the 1,471 mi (2,368 km) to the Al Bateen Executive Airport outside the capital of the United Arab Emirates by Tuesday morning.

However, mission control in Monaco points out that although the last leg is relatively short, it is still fraught with hazards. The summers in the region are extremely hot with temperatures on the design edge of the solar aircraft's systems. This will also produce flight hazards because high-altitude thermals and turbulences will require Piccrd to fly on oxygen at higher altitudes for extended periods of time.

"It's very emotional to take off from Egypt with Si2, given that I landed here in 1999 after accomplishing the first non-stop round the world balloon flight," says Piccard. "It's precisely here that started my dream of making another circumnavigation, but this time without fuel, only on solar power. I'm excited to come so close to the goal, but unfortunately there are still so many people we have to motivate before having a world running on the same clean technologies."

Source: Solar Impulse

5 comments
christopher
" ... still so many people we have to motivate ... " Yeah. 7.5+ billion of them. It's amusing how supposedly smart people have no grasp of reality when it comes to big numbers and impossible dreams. Nobody who loves solar can ever make any noticeable difference to our worlds climate, no matter how far they bury their head in the sand.
PoppyAnn
they state that it has flown around the world using no fuel how many times have they recharged the batteries from the mains supply when on the ground also I am sure they had to change all of the batteries on one stop so not quite no fuel.
unklmurray
Poppy,I do believe they could have been taking so long at each stop because that is how long it took for them to charge the batteries from Si2's own solar panels,If they were using charging from outside sources they could have left the next day as it was they were using their own panels,and it took more than 1 day to recharge all the batteries,where is your faith? Just because it would have been easier to use outside power doesn't mean they did......you weren't there so keep your accusations to yourself!!.........LOL :-)
Firehawk70
@PoppyAnn - even if they did a ground station recharge, they could have used a bunch of large solar panels, not connect it to the grid. I also don't see why they would need to swap out batteries, the life on them is not that short.
habakak
As much as I love solar, this was an epic failure. However, utility-scale solar energy production is doubling in global capacity every year (actually less than 12 months). It has increased 100 fold in the past 11 years. Residential solar is still too expensive and not a good use of the resources. And probably never, unless the current expensive consultation, custom design and installation solutions goes away. Solar is the future. If you believe that fossil fuels will still be the major energy source of the world in 20 years you are in denial. Unfortunately the renewable energy fan-base has lost their credibility by crying wolf too many times. They were pushing the technology as viable at too many times when it simply was not. However the skeptics should inform themselves before dismissing solar energy based on past outcomes.