by Staff Writers
Geneva (AFP) June 25, 2015
A solar-powered plane attempting to fly around the world must cross the Pacific within a few weeks or it could remain stuck in Japan for a year, its pilot said in an interview published Thursday.
Solar Impulse 2, which has been stranded in Japan for three weeks and had to postpone a planned take off this week due to bad weather over the Pacific, only has a short window for making the next leg of its journey, one of its two pilots, Bertrand Piccard, told the Tribune de Geneve daily.
By early August, the days will become too short for the solar-driven plane to cross the Pacific, and subsequently the Atlantic Ocean safely, he said.
"Before August 5, we must have crossed the Pacific or the Atlantic," Piccard said, adding that if the team is unable to do so they will have to find a permanent hangar where the fragile aircraft can pass the winter.
If the plane makes it to the United States, it can easily pass the winter there before crossing the Atlantic to complete its around-the-world trip, since the team has a permanent hanger in New York, Piccard said.
His partner, Andre Borschberg, had been scheduled to take off with the plane from the central Japanese city of Nagoya early Wednesday bound for Hawaii, on the latest and most ambitious leg of a bid to circumnavigate the globe using only power from the sun.
But after a few agonising hours poring over meteorological forecasts covering the five days and five nights the flight was expected to take, mission chiefs pulled the plug.
"There is still a cold front that is blocking our route. Our meteorologists are constantly evaluating alternative routes," Piccard said.
He pointed out that Solar Impulse 2 can "fly through clouds for 10 hours, but after that it needs blue skies to recharge its batteries. Otherwise, Andre will have to jump out in a parachute."
"We can't take that risk," he said.
The featherweight flying machine was not supposed to land in Japan on its multi-leg trip around the globe, but bad weather en route from Nanjing, China to Hawaii forced a diversion at the start of June.
Ever since, the crew has been scouring long-range forecasts for an opportunity to restart its record-breaking journey.
Piccard said the many sponsors footing the bill for the project had promised to continue their support, but acknowledged the team would need to figure out how to continue paying salaries to the some 150 people working on the venture if it dragged on.
All About Solar Energy at SolarDaily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.|