Record-Breaking Solar Impulse Starts Atlantic Crossing Tonight

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Tonight’s the night for the zero-fuel Solar Impulse 2 aircraft and pilot/inventor Bertrand Piccard. They take off at 2:00 am EDT Tuesday (6:00 am UTC, 8:00 am CET) from JFK International Airport in New York to make history on the first transatlantic solar/electric flight — zero fuel and zero emissions.

Readying Solar Impulse for takeoff (Solar Impulse facebook image)

JFK is a very busy airport, difficult to navigate. “We must therefore stick to the strict slots that we received by the airport in order to fly out,” say the Si2 bloggers. “We are happy that we got some slots, and we know now that we will be leaving early morning.”

The path is clear to attempt a flight to Sevilla, Spain, barring in-flight changes. André Borschberg will be monitoring the flight from the Solar Impulse Mission Control Center in Monaco. André landed in New York City 9 days ago after a flyover of the Statue of Liberty that CleanTechnica observed. Bertrand’s flight to Europe will last approximately 90 hours (timing subject to change)—the longest distance Solar Impulse has had to fly this year.

Only one person can fit in the cockpit of this quiet, almost-impossibly-wide solar airplane. Piccard, who also made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, spoke at our Lehigh Valley interview about flying day and night with no fuel. “It’s enjoyable,” he says. The pilots use yoga and mind control/self-hypnosis techniques to make the most of their short rest breaks on autopilot. In good weather, the plane is easy to fly. “It’s like flying in a fairy tale,” they say.

Solar Impulse, the flying laboratory and cleantech test kitchen (solarimpulse.com)

Dr. Piccard told CleanTechnica about the markets opening up for industry with emerging new energy technologies. Industries and companies that say renewable energy can never work and resist opportunities for constructive change are only wasting their time and resources every day. Humans always seek better ways of doing things, and old technologies become obsolete quickly. LED lamps, smartgrids, heat pumps, and ultralight materials all exemplify this trend.

Also note that the automobile industry did not come up with electric cars, nor did aeronautics invent the solar airplane. Other innovators stepped into the spotlight. The main Solar Impulse project partners and sponsors are listed on the table below.

Organizations partnering with Solar Impulse venture to create new technologies (solarimpulse.com)

Embrace the cleantech changes, Piccard urges. He also says that the renewable energy methods Solar Impulse is demonstrating can cut earth’s climate alterations in half, transforming an extensive problem into impressive opportunities.

Watch solarimpulse.com for live flight streaming from the plane’s cockpit and news of the flight and the challenges Bertrand will face over the Atlantic. 360-degree reality video can take you for a virtual ride on Solar Impulse 2. Facebook will feature live sessions with Bertrand Piccard in Si2’s cockpit and André Borschberg at the Mission Control Center.

Engineers Laila, Yves, Andreas, and Julian at the Mission Control Center in Monaco also answer some Q&As for you on the site about the flight over the Atlantic and explain some of the challenges. The blog may also feature google hangouts with Solar Impulse patrons.

Also, Erik Lindbergh joins the group on Solar Impulse TV to discuss the legacy of his grandfather Charles. But, in general, people like the Piccards and the Lindberghs, with their extensive family histories of adventurism, do not focus on their exploits. Rather, they home in on technologies, profit, and the social good.

If you haven’t done so already, you can subscribe here and you will be notified of all the key updates as Solar Impulse makes its way back to Abu Dhabi to complete the round-the-world flight.


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