Solar-powered airplane's first global journey has stops in US, India and China

PCWorld | Jan 20, 2015

An airplane powered entirely by the sun will start a 5-month journey around the world in late February or early March.

An airplane powered entirely by the sun will start its first-ever journey around the world in late February or early March.

The five-month trip will cross two oceans and four continents- all without using a drop of fuel.

On Tuesday, Solar Impulse co-founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg unveiled the route of the flight.

The Solar Impulse 2, or Si2, will take off from Abu Dhabi and make stops in India, Myanmar and China.

After crossing the Pacific Ocean through Hawaii, the plane will fly across the U.S and stop in three cities- Phoenix, New York City at JFK, and o a Midwest stop along the way that will be based on weather conditions.

The plane will return to Abu Dhabi by late July or early August after having traveled 35,000 kilometers, or nearly 22,000 miles, at speeds between 50 and 100 kilometers per hour. That’s roughly 31 and 62 miles per hour and a lot slower than a traditional commercial jet that has a crusing speed of close to 500 miles per hour.

When determining the route back to Abu Dhabi, the pilots said they had to consider geopolitical tensions.

SOT
Bertrand Piccard
Cofounder & pilot, Solar Impulse

The Si2 only has one seat so the pilots will take turns flying the aircraft. The plane is made of carbon fiber and has a 72-meter wingspan that’s larger than that of a Boeing 747-8. It weighs 2,300 kilograms or about 5,000 pounds.

17,000 solar cells that are built into the wings supply four electric motors with energy. The solar cells recharge lithium batteries during the day which allows the airplane to fly at night.

In San Francisco, Melissa Aparicio, IDG News Service.
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