Solar Impulse Prepares For Final Flea Hop Home
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The final leg of Bertrand Piccard’s and Andre Borschberg’s 2012 Solar Impulse Project has been given the go despite the challenging weather forecast over the next several days, which could force the team to make a pit stop in Toulouse before returning home to Payerne, Switzerland.
The flight is scheduled to lift off Tuesday morning July 17 at 5:30 a.m. (local time) with Piccard at the helm. The team is unsure if it will be able to make a direct flight to Switzerland in one go, and the Mission Control Center is currently evaluating all options for the flight.
Strong winds north of the Pyrenees would make it difficult to reach Switzerland that same day, and Piccard may have to land at Toulouse Francazal Airport in France and wait for favorable conditions the following day, before continuing on to Payerne.
The Tuesday launch goal is most likely the safest bet the team decided, because Wednesday thunderstorms are forecast for the area, making a launch that day extremely difficult. Any changes will be posted on the project website.
In the first scenario planned out, tomorrow’s departure will take Piccard and the HB-SIA aircraft from Madrid-Barajas airport in the direction of the French border near Biarritz. The airplane will ascend to 11,800 feet in order to pass west of the Pyrenees in the direction of Toulouse. The aircraft will then begin the descent toward Toulouse with an expected landing at around 8:00 p.m. (local time) on July 17.
The second, more-favorable scenario will take Piccard and the aircraft directly home to Payerne, completing a historic mission that began on May 27, 2012 when the Solar Impulse team made the flight from Payerne to Madrid, Spain, the first leg of the 2012 mission.
The flight can be followed live at solar impulse.com. A live feed will be running throughout the flight with sound and images of the pilot in action from take-off to landing.
The Crossing Frontiers 2012 mission began on May 24, 2012 and, to date, the HB-SIA has completed nearly 3,100 nautical miles, more than 101 hours of flight, and has used no fuel whatsoever, relying solely on the power of the Sun to complete the record-breaking journey.