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Solar Flight Just Made History

Solar Impulse 2 lands in Abu Dhabi, completing an around-the-world flight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 25, 2016 8:21 PM CDT

(Newser) – The world's first around-the-world flight to be powered solely by the sun's energy made history Tuesday as it landed in Abu Dhabi, where it first took off on an epic 25,000-mile journey that began more than a year ago, reports the AP. Since its March 2015 takeoff, the Swiss-engineered Solar Impulse 2 has made 16 stops across the world without using a drop of fuel to demonstrate that using the plane's clean technologies on the ground can halve the world's energy consumption, save natural resources, and improve quality of life. "Our mission now is to continue to motivate people, corporations, and governments to use these same solutions on the ground wherever they make sense," Solar Impulse Chairman and pilot Bertrand Piccard said ahead of landing the plane in Abu Dhabi. The aircraft is uniquely powered by 17,248 solar cells that transfer energy to four electrical motors that power the plane's propellers. The plane's wingspan stretches 236 feet to catch the sun's energy.

Over its entire mission, Solar Impluse 2 completed more than 500 flight hours, cruising at an average speed of between 28mph and 56mph. It made stops in Oman, India, Burma, China, Japan, the US, Spain, Italy, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates. "By flying around the world thanks to renewable energy and clean technologies, we have demonstrated that we can now make our world more energy efficient," co-pilot Andre Borschberg said. The pilots would rest a maximum of 20 minutes at a time, repeating the naps 12 times over each 24-hour stretch. It took 70 hours for Piccard to cross the Atlantic Ocean, which was the first by a solar-powered airplane. Borschberg's flight over the Pacific Ocean at 118 hours—or five days and five nights—shattered the record for the longest flight duration by an aircraft flying solo. (Read more Solar Impulse stories.)

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