TECH

Solar Impulse Prepares For Record-Breaking Flight Across The Pacific

25/05/2015 12:59 BST | Updated 25/05/2015 13:00 BST

Andre Borschberg is about to do something that is -- to all intents and purposes -- incredibly foolish.

Taking a plane that runs solely on solar power, the Swiss entrepreneur is going to take off on the evening of 25 May and fly over 8,000km from China to Hawaii non-stop. It's going to take him a week.

Remarkably, for Borschberg and the rest of the team, this is simply work as usual. Solar Impulse's 17,000 solar panels have already proven themselves more than capable since the plane first took off in March.

Since then the team and its two pilots have been slowly but determinedly circumnavigating the globe in a plane that weighs just two tonnes and runs off of good weather.

This, arguably their largest and most dangerous flight, is the pinnacle of what Solar Impulse can potentially achieve and it's going to be incredibly difficult.

The flight has to be planned to perfection. Weather conditions will need to be predicted almost to 100 per cent accuracy and Borschberg is going to need a lot of caffeine because sleep will be in seriously short supply.

To accomplish this record-breaking feat Solar Impulse 2 will need to be 100 per cent charged at the end of every day. As the sun goes down the stored energy will be all that remains for Borschberg to fly through the night.

READ MORE:

Typically ending up with between 7-10 per cent of the battery left by the time the sun comes back up, a bad charge the day before could prove catastrophic for plane and pilot.

The payoff as ever is in the press coverage that it raises. Solar Impulse isn't just about showing it can be done it's about making sure that literally everyone knows about it.

Of course Borschberg probably won't be complaining that if successful he'll have just set the world record for longest duration flight in a single-seater aircraft.