Traveling around the world on solar power alone is a dream come true when it comes to environmental concerns, and that’s just what the Solar Impulse 2 is doing. The plane began its journey back in March, and yesterday began its most daunting challenge yet — crossing the Pacific. The plane’s journey is expected to take six full days, in which the plane will cross from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii, reports BBC News. If completed successfully, it will be the longest flight by duration by a single pilot in history.
A previous incarnation of the Solar Impulse already proved its worth by crossing the U.S. back in 2013, as reported by the Inquisitr.
The pilot of the Solar Impulse, 62-year-old Swiss businessman, Andre Borschberg, sounded optimistic before takeoff, according to the Guardian.
“I cross my fingers and I hope to cross the Pacific. We have a good weather window, which means we have a stable corridor to reach Hawaii.”
The flight’s extreme duration is due to the Impulse’s sedate speed, which Ars Technica UK reports to be 56mph during the day, and just 37mph at night, due to power-saving. It’s important to remember, however, that the Solar Impulse is simply a proof of concept, there to be improved upon.
Of course, given that the Solar Impulse’s voyage is non-stop and is very, very long, the pilot needs to sleep in-flight. As Borschberg himself tweets, this requires a lot of trust between the pilot and the plane.
— André Borschberg (@andreborschberg) May 31, 2015
On its international journey, the Solar Impulse has already flown across almost the entirety of Asia. The Impulse flew from Abu Dhabi to Muscat and on to India, Myanmar, and China, across six legs. The Impulse’s longest journey so far was its flight from Muscat in Oman to Ahmedabad in northwest India, a distance of 923 miles. The timeliest flight for the solar plane and its pilot, however, was the slightly shorter flight from Varanasi, India, to Mandalay, Myanmar, which took 20 hours and 29 minutes.
The Impulse’s next flight? Another achingly-long journey, this time 100 hours, from Hawaii to Phoenix.
As of this writing, the Solar Impulse 2 is off the western coast of Japan. If you want to stay up to the minute on the Impulse’s progress, you can follow the journey live via YouTube below. Check out the Impulse’s website for other up to date info, such as current speed and location.
What do you think of the Solar Impulse? Let us know your thoughts.
[Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images]