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Solar Impulse 2 starts second bid across Pacific Ocean

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Tokyo: The Swiss-made solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse 2, on Monday started its second bid at a record-breaking flight across the Pacific Ocean.

According to sources, the solar plane took off from Nagoya Airfield in Japan at dawn and is scheduled to land in Hawaii in approximately 120 hours.

Roughly eight hours into the flight, project spokeswoman Elke Neumann said that it was still unknown whether the plane would continue its bid for Hawaii, a flight that would last at least five days and nights and would need clear, calm conditions throughout, Japan Times reported.

“We are not sure if we can continue,” she said, adding that a decision would be taken in the early afternoon.

Co-piloted by Swiss businessman Andre Borschberg and Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut Bertrand Piccard, the Solar Impulse 2 is a lightweight aircraft driven by four electric propellers and banks of solar panels atop its wings and fuselage.

It took shelter at the Nagoya city airport, also known as Komaki Airport, on June 1, part way through a flight from Nanjing, China, to Hawaii.

A previous effort to resume the flight on June 24 was cancelled at the last minute. This time, the project team announced plans to take off only about an hour before departure.

“We just wanted to make sure that we are really safely on the way to Hawaii,” explained Neumann. “It created a lot of disappointment.”

In the statement, the team thanked its Japanese hosts for helping accommodate the aircraft and its support staff during the unplanned visit.

“Solar Impulse extends its gratitude to all those in Japan who have worked very hard to accommodate us,” the statement said.

From Hawaii, the plane aims to reach the US mainland and to cross the Atlantic while calm summer conditions still persist. It would end its round-the-world voyage at its starting point, Abu Dhabi.

Capable of flying over oceans for several days and nights in a row, the single-seater Si2, started its journey from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 9.

The plane has set two world records for manned solar-powered flight.

The first was for the longest distance covered on a single journey, that of 1,468 km between Muscat in Oman and Ahmedabad in India.

The second was for a ground speed of 117 knots (216 kmph), which was achieved during the flight from Varanasi in India to Mandalay. (IANS)

Next Story

Trash-Collecting Device Breaks Apart In The Pacific Ocean

The plastic barrier with a tapered 3-meter-deep (10-foot-deep) screen is intended to act like a coastline

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Trash, Ocean
A ship tows The Ocean Cleanup's first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 8, 2018. VOA

A trash collection device deployed to corral plastic litter floating in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii has broken apart and will be hauled back to dry land for repairs.

Boyan Slat, who launched the Pacific Ocean cleanup project, told NBC News last week that the 600-meter (2,000-foot) long floating boom will be towed 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) to Hawaii.

If it can’t be repaired there, it will be loaded on a barge and returned to its home port of Alameda, California.

 

Ocean Pollution, trash
Artist Joel Deal Stockdill, lower right, works on a blue whale art piece made from discarded single-use plastic at Crissy Field in San Francisco. VOA

 

The boom broke apart under constant wind and waves in the Pacific.

Slat said he’s disappointed, but not discouraged and pledged that operations would resume as soon as possible.

“This is an entirely new category of machine that is out there in extremely challenging conditions,” the 24-year-old Dutch inventor said. “We always took into account that we might have to take it back and forth a few times. So it’s really not a significant departure from the original plan.”

Previously Slat said the boom was moving slower than the plastic, allowing the trash to float away.

Microplastics, plastic, trash
A volunteer shows plastics retrieved from the ocean, after a garbage collection, ahead of World Environment Day, on La Costilla Beach, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain. VOA

A ship towed the U-shaped barrier in September from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of trash twice the size of Texas. It had been in place since the end of October.

Also Read: The Ocean And Its Climate Crisis

The plastic barrier with a tapered 3-meter-deep (10-foot-deep) screen is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

Slat has said he hopes one day to deploy 60 of the devices to skim plastic debris off the surface of the ocean. (VOA)