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Solar plane set to fly round the world revealed

Solar Impulse 2, the plane set to fly around the world only using solar power has been revealed.

After 12 years of work, Swiss duo Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg are one step closer to their revolutionary flight, set for 2015.

Solar Impulse 2 has been developed from learnings of Solar Impulse 1, the first aircraft ever to fly at night using solar power. The single-seater plane will use no fuel for the journey, which will take five days and nights. It has a wingspan of 236 ft and a weight of just 5000 pounds.

The plane has 17,000 solar cells built into the wings, powering four electric motors (17.5 CV each). During the day, solar cells charge lithium batteries weighing 2077 lbs to allow flight at night.

Credit: Solar Impulse

Credit: Solar Impulse

“A vision counts for nothing unless it is backed up by action. With 8 world records for Solar Impulse 1, the first solar aircraft capable of flying during the night, crossing two continents and flying over the United States, we have shown that clean technologies and renewable energies can accomplish the impossible,” said Bertrand Piccard, founder and Chairman of Solar Impulse.

“Now we need to go even further,” added André Borschberg, co-founder and CEO. “Solar Impulse 2 will have virtually unlimited autonomy, and now we need to make sure the pilot is as sustainable as his aircraft. This is why the round-the-world flight will be as much a human as a technological feat.”

The plane will begin test flights in May, and the round the world trip is due for March 2015. During the journey, Solar Impulse 2 will land every few days to change pilots and hold events to spread the word about solar to people around the world.


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