Solar Impulse 2 reaches Nanjing, China: next stop, Hawaii

After crossing the Pacific Ocean, Solar Impulse will stop in the United States, and then either North Africa or Southern Europe, before returning to Abu Dhabi to complete the first ever round-the-world solar flight.

The solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse 2 landed successfully in Nanjing, China, following a 20 day stay in Chongqing. The carbon fiber-intensive Solar Impulse 2 features resin supplied by Solvay (Alpharetta, GA, US) and carbon fiber fabric technology supplied by North Thin Ply Technology (Penthalaz-Cossonay, Switzerland).

This journey was used to verify and fine-tune final elements in the preparation of the Pacific Ocean crossing scheduled for early May, pending favorable weather conditions. This last leg is bringing Solar Impulse one step closer to an aviation first—the next part of the circumnavigation will require flying five consecutive days and nights in a solar- powered aircraft to cross the Pacific, a feat that has never been accomplished before.

“Nanjing represents a turning point in the entire mission; this is where everything comes together for us as pilots after initiating the project 12 years ago," said André Borschberg c-founder, CEO and pilot of Solar Impulse. "This is the moment of truth where all the technical and human challenges will have to be overcome. We now have less than a month to mentally and physically prepare for what will be Solar Impulse’s longest flight to date: a five day and five night journey across the Pacific Ocean from Nanjing to Hawaii.”

In the coming months, the pilots will continue their expedition around the globe promoting a cleaner future. Given the low speed of the ultra-light aircraft, the round-the-world mission will demand more than 500 flight hours—or nearly three weeks in the air, spread over five months, covering the roughly 22,000 mile (35,000 km) journey. The Solar Impulse 2 is said to be the largest aircraft ever built with such a low weight, equivalent to that of a small car.

After crossing the Pacific Ocean, Solar Impulse will stop in the United States, and then either North Africa or Southern Europe, before returning to Abu Dhabi to complete the first ever round-the-world solar flight.