Okay - it's not really a Japanese story, but I do like my science and I do like my aviation stories… but the solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2, has resumed its journey on its round-the-world flight taking of from Nagoya, Japan on June 28, 2015, heading to Hawaii.
Piloted by Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, the Solar Impulse 2 has been stuck in Nagoya since June 1, after bad weather forced it down for an unscheduled stop.
Solar power… I'm guessing it needs sunlight to help power the craft… I would imagine that if you can get above the clouds, however, there's a lot of sun…
Anyhow… the weather really sucked for the crew of the Solar Impulse 2, as even a restart of the leg to Hawaii on June 23 had to be canceled owing to bad weather.
Thanks to the upcoming raining season, the project coordinators needed to move sooner rather than later if they were going to complete this journey or be forced to scrap it for another year…
So… moving the Solar Impulse 2 from its hangar in Nagoya, on June 28, 2015, with a break in the weather, the crew lifted off and resumed its journey.
The epic flight around the world began in March 9 of this year.
Here's the flight plan (I apologize in advance for not knowing how to do charts on BLOGGER):
Departure Origin Destination Flight Time Distance
March 9/15 Abu Dhabi Muscat, 13h: 1m 441km (274 miles)
3:12AM UAE Oman
March 10 Muscat Ahmeddabad, 15h: 20m 1,485km (923 miles)
March 18 Ahmeddabad Varanasi, 13h: 15m 1,215km (755 miles)
March 18 Varanasi Mandalay, 13h: 29m 1,398km (867 miles)
March 29 Mandalay Chonquing, 20h: 29m 1,459km (907 miles)
April 20 Chonquing Nanjing, 17h: 22m 1,344km (835 miles)
May 30 Nanjing Nagoya, 44h: 10m 2,852km (1,772 miles)
June 28 Nagoya Hawaii 120hrs 7,900km (4,909 miles)
6:03PM USA (planned) (planned)
9 Hawaii Phoenix 100hrs 4,707 km (2,925 miles)
USA (planned) (planned)
10 Phoenix TBD 30hrs 2,030km (1,261 miles)
mid-USA (planned) (planned)
11 TBD New York 20hrs 1,436km (892 miles)
USA (planned) (planned)
12 New York TBD 120 hrs 5,739km (3,566 miles)
S. Europe or (planned) (planned)
13 TBD Abu Dhabi 120 hrs 5,845km (3,632 miles)
UAE (planned) (planned)
As you can see, the Japan to Hawaii leg is the longest part of the trip - so far - but the plan, hopefully, is to complete the entire round trip back to Abu Dhabi, UAE by sometime in August of 2015.
Originally, Japan wasn't even part of the journey! This was supposed to have 12 legs - not (unlucky) 13!
The flight plan originally called for a trip from Nanjing, China direct to Hawaii: 144 hrs and 9,132km ()… but the prospect of the weather turning foul was too great a risk for the aircraft - hence Nagoya.
That's awesome! This is 120 hours just on solar power… and solar power only.
The Solar Impulse 2 dimensions:
- Speed: 50 to 100 km/h (31 to 62 mph) - I would imagine that depends on wind… but too much could be troublesome;
- Pilots: 1… the pilots switch off at each destination… but do NOT fly together aboard the plane;
- Length: 22.4 meters (73.5 feet);
- Height: 6.37 meters (20.9 feet);
- Wingspan: 72-meters (236-feet) - wider than a Boeing 747-8I;
- Weight: 2,300 kilograms (5,070 pounds);
- Loaded Weight: 2,300 kilograms (5,100 pounds);
- Propeller Diameter: 4 meters (13.1 feet);
- Take-off Speed: 36 kph ();
- Maximum Speed: 140 kph (87 mph);
- Cruise Speed: 90 kph; but 60 kph at night to save power;
- Ceiling: 8,500 meters (27,900 feet) - maximum allowed of 12,000 meters (39,000 feet);
- Motors: Electric, 17,248 solar cells + four 41 kWh lithium-ion batteries powering fur electric motors with 17.4 HP each;
- Battery Weight: 633 kilograms (1,395 pounds).
The solar cells cover the top of the wings, fuselage and tail. Each cell is 135 microns thin and built into the wing (so it shouldn't peel away) and protected by an overcoat of fluorine copolymer plastic film.
Unlike our unlucky rower HERE who was forced to give up her quest quite early in, here's hoping the Solar Impulse 2 completes its journey around the world without further mishap or inclement weather.
To see a live feed of the Solar Impulse 2 in flight, see their YouTube Channel below:
UPDATED - July 2: Already more than 75% of the way to the next port in Hawaii, Solar Impulse 2 has three world records under its belt:
- longest distance traveled for solar aviation;
- longest duration in teh sky for solar aviation;
- longest solo flight ever (solar or otherwise)