Solar Impulse 2, an experimental aircraft flying around the world to draw attention to clean energy technologies, took flight again on May 2.
Pilot Andre Borschberg took off at 12:00 GMT taking advantage of a “clear weather window” for him to fly from the Mojave Desert to Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona — an effort that should take about 16 hours.
The plane has been in California for a week since crossing the Pacific to land in Mountain View. Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard piloted the craft from Hawaii to California. Piccard, who has been alternating the long solo flights with teammate Borschberg, has handed over to his teammate, who will pilot Solar Impulse across the US and to New York.
The mission aims to promote the use of renewable energy, with an aircraft powered by 17,000 solar cells. The plane’s wingspan is wider than that of a jumbo jet but its weight is roughly the same as a family car.
Solar Impulse 2 was grounded in July last year when its batteries suffered problems halfway through its 35,000km circumnavigation.
The crew took several months to repair the damage from high tropical temperatures during the first Pacific stage, a flight between Japan and Hawaii.
The aircraft was flown on that leg by Borschberg, whose 118-hour journey smashed the previous record of 76 hours and 45 minutes set by American adventurer Steve Fossett in 2006.
The solar-powered plane, which stores energy in batteries for when the sun is not shining, will stop in New York before a transatlantic flight to Europe. From there the pilots plan to make their way back to the point of departure in Abu Dhabi.