March 9th, 2015
The Solar Impulse 2 isn’t any average aircraft: it’s been designed from the ground up with this mission in mind. Over 17,000 solar cells line its wings, supplying a series of electric motors and charging four on-board lithium batteries. It’s designed to be entirely solar-powered, and, thanks to those batteries, able to fly through day and night. While we’ve certainly seen solar planes before, it’s the first that can actually fly between continents — and, if all goes well, it’ll soon be the first to fly around the world.
The trip is due to take place over five months. It’s starting and finishing in Abu Dhabi, with around 25 full flight days split into twelve legs.
Solar Impulse, claimed to be the world’s only solar-powered aircraft, will make a stop over in Ahmedabad tomorrow as a part of its maiden global journey.
The tiny cockpit will be packed with essentials for the journey — enough food and water for a week — as well as a parachute, life raft and oxygen bottles in case of emergencies.
Borschberg and Piccard, who piloted an earlier version of the plane across the U.S. in 2013, are no strangers to adventure. Borschberg is a former fighter pilot, and Piccard was part of the first team to circumnavigate the earth nonstop in a balloon in 1999.