The solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse, has taken off from Japan to Hawaii on its longest and most perilous journey yet. It’s the plane’s second attempt at the flight after suffering a weather-cased setback weeks ago that required fixing the plane and waiting for a new window of time to attempt the more than 5-day long flight across the Pacific Ocean with no possibility of landing.
That window was early this morning, apparently. André Borschberg, Co-Founder and CEO of Solar Impulse took off at 3 a.m. from Nagoya to Hawaii. During the first 10 hours of the flight the Solar Impulse team did not say anything about the flight as they were working to fix technical problems and make sure the place was ready for travel after suffering a previous failure.“The real moment of truth still lies ahead. We are now at the point in the round-the-world solar flight where everything comes together, the engineers who worked on the airplane for the last 12 years, the mission control center who will have to predict weather and guide the airplane through good conditions and Bertrand who had this vision 16 years ago of an airplane flying for days without fuel to change our mindset regarding the potential of clean technologies and renewable energies,” Borschberg said prior to taking off.
Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard, co-founder and co-pilot, are flying the plane around the world, trading off shifts when possible. For this leg of the journey, however, Borschberg must fly the whole trip without a relief, whether or not it takes 5 or 6 full days. During that time the plane will only be powered by the SunPower solar panels that cover its wings and fuselage. Those panels also send excess power to its batteries. The batteries allow the plane to fly throughout the night when the sun isn’t powering the solar cells.
“An airplane flying day and night without fuel is more than a spectacular milestone in aviation, it's the living proof that clean technologies and renewable energies can achieve incredible feats; and that all these energy efficient technologies should now be used globally in order to have a cleaner world,” Piccard said. “Solar Impulse is the result of years of innovation from our partners and the hard work of our engineering team led by André.”
The flight to Hawaii will be it’s most ambitious yet. The pilots and team behind it hope that using nothing but solar power and energy storage will show others, particularly governments and rule-makers that the promise of solar power is even now being realized. In fact, the founders have gone so far as to create FutureIsClean a site allowing people to make their voices heard ahead of the upcoming COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris.Tweet