Solar Impulse 2 begins 120-hour Japan-to-Hawaii journey

After being grounded by weather in Japan for several weeks, the solar-powered, composites-intensive Solar Impulse 2 has departed for Hawaii on the eighth leg of its around-the-world journey.

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Solar Impulse reported on June 29 that it launched at 3:03 am local time Japan (6:03 pm GMT on June 28) its Solar Impulse 2 solar-powered, composites-intensive aircraft on the 120-hour Nagoya, Japan-to-Hawaii leg of its Round-the-World mission. Swiss pilot André Borschberg took off in the single-seat aircraft. The plane had been grounded in Japan for weeks as Solar Impulse waited for favorable weather over the 1,500-km flight plan.

The first 10 hours of flight were difficult for the team, which had to solve technical problems before giving the final go to head for Hawaii when Solar Impulse was already off the coast of Japan.

This is the second attempt to reach Hawaii after diverting the first time around to Nagoya, Japan, following a take off from Nanjing, China. This flight will be demanding and challenging particularly given its duration, and the fact that no immediate landing is possible. It will be a feat never accomplished before in the world of aviation.

The attempt to reach Hawaii from Japan will represent a real life test of endurance for the pilot while at the same time pushing the limits of the airplane to even new levels. Borschberg will sleep only for 20 minutes at a time and will use yoga and meditation to keep his body energy and mindset functioning well.

“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 [Piccard] 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," says Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and -ilot.

“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. Solar Impulse is the result of years of innovation from our partners and the hard work of our engineering team led by André,” says Piccard, Solar Impulse initiator, chairman and pilot.

Piccard, who will pilot the airplane on the next leg from Hawaii to Phoenix, AZ, US, will complete the crossing of the Pacific. This flight will not only continue to demonstrate the credibility of the vision of Solar Impulse, but more importantly, help at raising millions of voices from individuals and governments to replace old polluting devices with new clean technologies that are more energy efficient. Bertrand and André have created a web platform FutureIsClean, in order to enable concerned citizens a mechanism to input into the upcoming COP 21 negotiations in Paris.