A decisive milestone was reached yesterday as the solar-charged, electric-powered Solar Impulse successfully completed the second-to-last leg of its Across America mission by landing at Washington Dulles International Airport–locally it was Sunday, June 16 at 12:15 a.m.–stimulating renewed enthusiasm for discovery and innovation.
The massive, gangly Solar Impulse landed at 12:30 a.m. in Phoenix on Saturday, having completed the first leg of the solar-powered airplane’s Across America mission. The flight departed Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. on Friday at 6:12 a.m. PDT and landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport on Saturday at 12:30 a.m. MST.
The flight took 18 hours and 18 minutes, all powered by 12,000 solar cells mounted in the wings, driving four 10-hp electric motors and propellers. To fly at night, energy is stored in 881 pounds of lithium-ion batteries.
Switzerland-based Solar Impulse is planning “Across America” flights this spring to showcase its sun-powered aircraft to the U.S. public and demonstrate and develop the possibilities of solar energy. Meanwhile, in Switzerland, the company is developing a second, larger aircraft that it hopes to fly around the world in 2015.