Solar Impulse 2 Begins Six Day Flight Across the Pacific
Solar Impulse 2 (SI2), the world's first completely solar-powered aircraft to attempt a transoceanic flight, has finally begun its flight across the Pacific Ocean. The flight from Nanjing, China to Hawaii will cover 5,000 miles and will take an astounding six days to complete. In fact, this will be the longest solo flight in history if it's completed as planned. Onboard are a week's worth of food and water and Captain Andre Borschberg's seat can recline into a bed. He'll be able to take naps once in a while, but never for more than twenty minutes at a time. The flight had been delayed for months as very specific weather and wind patterns are required for the mission to be successful, and Mother Nature simply didn't want to cooperate. The team was finally able to begin their journey early Sunday morning. You can follow the journey live from inside the cockpit and Mission Control in Monaco on the Solar Impulse website. The feed itself is actually pretty entertaining. Last time I checked in, Captain Borschberg was singing to himself. I can imagine how a six day solo flight could get pretty boring. The aircraft is currently on a five month mission to circumnavigate the globe and prove that solar and other renewable energy technology has a future in the transportation industry and the World at large. SI2 took off on its first leg from Abu Dhabi to Muscat, Oman in March and has since stopped in India, Myanmar and China. After the current leg to Hawaii, it will fly to Phoenix, somewhere in the Midwestern USA (depending on weather conditions), New York City, Southern Europe, and Northern Africa before returning to Abu Dhabi. Solar Impulse 2 is nothing short of an engineering marvel. Its wingspan is about 250 feet across yet its lightweight carbon-fiber fuselage means that it only weighs about 5,000 pounds. The large surface area of the wing allows for the use of almost 20,000 photovoltaic cells. It only travels at about 90 miles per hour, but the fact that it is 100 percent reliant on energy from the sun, and thus requires absolutely zero fuel whatsoever, allows it to complete long-haul flights such as today's from China to Hawaii. The goal of Solar Impulse's round-the-world flight is to prove to the world that responsible energy sources can be used in ways that have always been thought of as impossible. I mean, if they can fly around the world with zero fuel, is there really anything that can't be done? In an era when most news is centered around world-conflict or politics, it is refreshing to see a group of adventurers that is dedicated to creating a better future for all of us on a global scale. Follow along with Solar Impulse on their website, Facebook, or Twitter for updates on the mission.