The Swiss-engineered airplane Solar Impulse 2 will begin its solar-powered flight around the world on Monday. If weather permits, the plane will launch from Abu Dhabi early in the morning. The plane was scheduled to launch earlier this month, but was delayed due to weather conditions.
The flight should take around five months to complete, and the 21,748-mile journey has been divided into 12 manageable trips. The team behind the Solar Impulse 2, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, will share piloting duties during the 500-hour flight. The single-cabin airplane has a 236-foot wingspan covered in 17,248 solar cells that power four electric motors. Because its wing cells store energy from the Sun, the Solar Impulse 2 can fly at night as well as during the day.
Piccard and Borschberg have been a part of the Solar Impluse team for years now (Piccard is the president of Solar Impulse, and Borschberg is the co-founder and CEO). Together, they hold eight world records for flight, including the first solar-powered flight across the US in the original Solar Impulse.
After taking off in Abu Dhabi, the Solar Impulse 2 will make stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, the US, and Southern Europe or Northern Africa before landing back in Abu Dhabi sometime in July. You can track the plane's progress here.
I've been dreaming about a #RTW flight without fuel for 16 years. I can hardly believe we are leaving in three days pic.twitter.com/EGiOGIbzT5— Bertrand PICCARD (@bertrandpiccard) March 6, 2015
You can check out a 3D rendering of the Solar Impulse 2 and its flight path below.