Subscribe to RSS

Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

Solar Impulse CEO André Borschberg sits in the cockpit before takeoff early Saturday morning.

Solar Impulse pilot André Borschberg had more than 12 hours of solo flying in the cramped cockpit of a solar-powered airplane left, but he was not about to start keeping time.

“I don’t count the hours. If you count the hours, that’s the wrong way to go about it because you say 12, 11, 10, and start to count down,” he said during an in-flight phone interview with CNET on Saturday during his eighth hour of flight. “I try to enjoy each moment. I really try to appreciate where I am, what I am doing. I’m not in a hurry because I cannot land early. So, time is not so much an issue, so important — it’s more the way to get to the destination, which is very interesting.”

The co-founder and CEO of the team behind the Solar Impulse HB-SIA plane is certainly taking an interesting way to get to his destination, John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. The airplane he’s flying, developed and built in Switzerland, doesn’t need to use any fuel. Instead, it has 12,000 solar cells built into its wings that charge lithium batteries, enabling the plane to fly both day and night for up to 26 hours.

Borschberg took off Saturday at 2 a.m. PT from Washington Dulles International Airport and was scheduled to land after 11 p.m. PT (2 a.m. East Coast time). This is the last leg of a coast-to-coast tour of the United States. The plane started its journey at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., on May 3, in hopes of promoting clean technology. It has also made stops in Phoenix and Dallas.

Borschberg said the toughest challenge so far has been responding to weather conditions, particularly in central Texas and in Missouri, where tornadoes have afflicted the areas. The slender aircraft weighs 3,527 pounds — about the same as a midsize car — but has a wingspan of 208 feet, matching that of a jumbo jet.

Borschberg said he’s had no doubts the solar technology would hold up, since the team knows exactly how much energy the plane can get from the sun and how much it will need to store to get it through a flight. The plane can climb to 35,000 feet.

“There are no limits. The only limit is the pilot…To cross oceans and to make very long flights, we need entertainment for the pilots to stay alert and in good shape, many days and many nights,” Borschberg said. Solar Impulse plans to address some of these issues with a new plane that should be ready by the end of this year.

The Solar Impulse plane set a world record in late May for the longest distance flown by a solar-powered aircraft. Borschberg flew the plane 1,541 kilometers (957 miles, or 832 nautical miles), beating the previous record of 1,116 kilometers (602 nautical miles), also set by Borschberg when he flew the Solar Impulse from Switzerland to Spain in May 2012.

Related storiesSolar-powered plane heads to WashingtonSolar-powered plane completes third leg of flight across AmericaSolar Impulse flies 957 miles to set world record

The Solar Impulse crew wants the flights to prove that solar-powered technology is capable of long-term use. Already, the materials used for the plane, including insulation materials for the batteries and the batteries themselves, can be used for everyday applications, Borschberg said. The seat insulation is light weight and ideal for cars or homes, while the batteries can go into cars and other transportation.

As he soared over the Atlantic coastline just north of Atlantic City at 8,000 feet, Borschberg could see people out on the beach enjoying the long holiday weekend. But he had no desire to join them; he was reveling in his moment of flight.

“Very often, we are extremely stressed and pushing to get things done very quickly, so this is a totally different situation when you sit in this airplane,” he said. “If you don’t have any fuel, time is not a problem.”

You can follow on with Borschberg’s journey, and monitor the plane’s battery levels and other stats, on Solar Impulse’s Web site.

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

  • Solar Impulse soars over the Atlantic

0 comments

Other articlesgo to homepage

Did the iPod kill the boom box?

Did the iPod kill the boom box?

Starting in the 1970s boom boxes provided the soundtrack of urban life — on the street, buses, subways, parks, and beaches — boom boxes were everywhere. Now they’re almost defunct, music has moved inside, between our ears. We plugged-in and tuned-out from the world around us. The transition from external to internal was slow at

Mom tries to Facebook-shame daughter, gets pizza on face

Mom tries to Facebook-shame daughter, gets pizza on face

I do love parenting videos. Some parents believe in an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a Facebook post for a Facebook post. Children, they think, sometimes need to learn lessons the hard way. Because the power of the hard way hasn’t yet been disrupted by the clever young people in

NSA’s reported Huawei hack gives glimpse of agency’s role in ‘cyber Cold War’

NSA’s reported Huawei hack gives glimpse of agency’s role in ‘cyber Cold War’

A new report based on the trove of secret NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden gives a glimpse of the agency’s role in the cyber-intrigues taking place between the US and China, with files showing that the NSA hacked into Chinese router-maker Huawei’s servers with the hope of gaining info on government plans and of

Twitter battle in Turkey heats up, spreads to YouTube — reports

Twitter battle in Turkey heats up, spreads to YouTube — reports

Turkey’s battle over Net censorship is heating up, with the government there reportedly blocking a method that let citizens sidestep a Twitter ban, the White House expressing “serious concern” over the ban, and Google reportedly refusing requests from Turkish authorities to take down YouTube videos that cast the prime minister in a critical light. Bloomberg

Apple rumor claims all-new, 12-inch MacBook Air

Apple rumor claims all-new, 12-inch MacBook Air

A future MacBook Air may depart from the 11- and 13-inch designs to date. Apple is planning a radical redesign of the MacBook Air “soon,” if a forum post out of China is to be believed. A key aspect of the redesign would be the elimination of the fan assembly, according to MacRumors, which describes

read more