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Solar Impulse 2, the sun-powered plane that set records for endurance flight in June and July, may take to the skies again in the spring. The project aims to promote the use of clean energy.
The plane and two pilots began their trip in Abu Dhabi, stopping off in India, China and Japan (among other places) before the five-day flight from Nagoya to Hawaii — at which point the plane was grounded by what the team described as "irreversible" battery damage. That was shortly after pilot Andre Borschberg set the world record for solo flight, going for 76 hours and 45 minutes without a break.
The team isn't one to let mechanical troubles do anything more than delay their historic trip: an update on the Solar Impulse blog indicates that the plane will fly again soon.
"The test flights for the second part of the Round-the-World tour will start at the end of February," read the post, "and the plane should takeoff from Hawaii in April if the weather allows it."
The organization is also looking into creating solar-powered drones.
"As my engineers jokingly remind me, pilots can be unpredictable," wrote Borschberg. "There is so much which can be done from the sky using new observation technologies to increase the productivity of agriculture, to better anticipate droughts and to analyze the effects of climate change in real time. What a stimulating perspective for our technology!"
He offered no concrete plans for this new direction, but expect updates on the Solar Impulse 2 when it leaves the ground next year.