Solar Impulse faces ‘moment of truth’

It will be a test of man and machine. The Solar Impulse project is about to undertake its greatest challenge yet – to fly non-stop from Nanjing in China to Hawaii in the Central Pacific. For a passenger airliner, the 8,000km could be completed in 10 hours or so. But for this solar-powered, prop-driven, experimental aircraft – it could take 5-6 days and nights of continuous flight.

So far on its epic round-the-world quest to promote clean technologies, Solar Impulse has been restricted to short hops of about 20 hours’ maximum duration. To complete this seventh leg will involve smashing several aviation records – not least the longest-duration journey for a single-seater plane. The Swiss entrepreneur and engineer Andre Borschberg, who will be at the controls, has supreme confidence in the technology, but he is in no doubt how tough the coming mission will be. “It’s more in the end about myself; it’s going to be an inner-voyage,” he told BBC News. “It’s going to be a discovery about how I feel and how I sustain myself during these 5-6 days in the air.” Source: Solar Impulse faces ‘moment of truth’

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