Yesterday, the solar-powered airplane Solar Impulse successfully touched down in Nanjing, China, completing the Asian leg of its global trip. Next, though, comes one of the toughest parts of the journey: crossing the Pacific Ocean.
The round-the-world trip has been facing some delays since it started in March. In fact it was forced to wait further west in China for three weeks until there was decent enough weather to complete the trip. Cloud and crosswinds were out in force preventing safe flight and while alternative routes were considered none proved suitable.
Now sat in Nanjing for about 10 days, the next flight will be the toughest of the journey so far. From China, the airplane will have to travel to Hawaii before it can next set it wheels on the ground. That crossing — never yet attempted by a zero-fuel airplane — will last five days and five nights, with pilot Bertrand Piccard facing massive swings in temperature as he flies the unpressurised craft.
Image by Solar Impulse