We first heard about Solar Impulse a few years back when this project was still under development, the idea was to create a solar powered airplane that could undertake a round-the-world-trip. Fast forward to 2015 and Solar Impulse 2 has flown several missions around the world also setting some records on the way, it recently completed a non-stop flight from Japan to Hawaii only on solar energy. Unfortunately the airplane’s batteries were damaged on this flight which is why it has been grounded and won’t be going anywhere until 2016.
A statement has been released today by the Solar Impulse team and it says that the batteries inside the solar-powered airplane have suffered “irreversible damage” during the flight from Japan to Hawaii. This is why the plane will now remain in Hawaii for “several months” so that the required repairs can be made and the team estimates that Solar Impulse 2 will be able to resume its journey by early next year.
The team explains that the plane’s batteries overheated much faster than expected during its ascent from Nagoya, Japan due to over-insulated gondolas and high climb rate, adding that it didn’t not correctly predict how fast the batteries would heat up in tropical climates and that there’s no technical failure to blame here.
Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard has said that this is a small problem and the team has the energy to continue, “we have the commitment to complete this flight around the world next year, hopefully of course, successfully,” he said.