Solar Impulse II Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg celebrated the opening of a control center in Monaco with Prince Albert II, who had championed environmental protection and is a patron of the Solar Impulse flight around the world.
The Si2 round-the-world flight will take off from the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in early March and return by late July 2015. When crossing the United States, it will stop in Phoenix, somewhere in the Midwest, and John F. Kennedy International Airport. The last time an earlier model of the all-electric airplane crossed the United States, it stopped in St. Louis.
Solar Impulse charges its batteries and takes off using electric motors, recharging the batteries using the sun and solar cells. At night the airplane slowly descends until the sun comes up again, once again charging the batteries and allowing the airplane to climb.
This isn’t the same aircraft that came to the United States. While that aircraft was on a journey to Africa and back from Switzerland, the main spar for Solar Impulse II broke on a test stand, delaying the construction of the current aircraft.
The Monaco Control Center is now operational for the launch of the world tour and is ready to welcome the team of over 40 people to the facilities specifically fitted out for this adventure.
Prince Albert II of Monaco said, “Solar Impulse is first and foremost a quest for clean energy, capable of flying an aeroplane around the world without harming the environment, an energy capable of conquering the skies without damaging the earth. This project helps to show that the new low-carbon economy which the world needs is today possible, provided that we are fully committed to it, with passion, tenacity and inventiveness. This is why more than ever we need to promote research and innovation, as you are doing and as we are doing here in Monaco by hosting your project and supporting many others with the Monegasque State as well as with my Foundation.”