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Solar Powered Flight Around The World Takes Off

Words by: Sarah Ison
Photo credit: Solarimpulse.com

The first attempt to fly around the world in a fully solar powered aircraft has been launched yesterday in Abu Dhabi, with Swiss pilots Betrand Piccard and André Borschberg in the cockpit of The Solar Impulse 2.

The journey has been thirteen years in the making, with research and testing of the aircraft being undertaken by Piccard and Borschberg themselves.

The two pilots also act as chairmen of the project and have devoted years to both research and training for the flight.

The pair have already broken a variety of aviation records, including a fully solar powered flight across the US with The Solar Impulse 1 in 2013.

The Solar Impulse one’s successor, SI2 has an impressive 72m wingspan which facilitates the 17,000 solar cells that not only power the aircraft directly, but also store solar energy to be used in flights overnight.

Using the energy stored by these cells, The Solar Impulse 2 will complete a 35,000km journey that is to be broken into twelve legs and will culminate to a five month voyage across the globe.

All of this will be achieved without one single drop of fuel, a feat which aims to promote green energy and, as Piccard put it to ‘share our vision of a clean future’.

Each of the twelve stops made by the SI2 will thus be used not only for maintenance of the plane and recuperation of the pilots, but to spread the important message that, in Piccard’s words, ‘clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the impossible’.

Click here to track The Solar Impulse 2, and follow its journey across the world.