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Solar Impulse Update: Zero-Fuel Plane Sets Off For Final Leg of Record-Breaking Flight

Jul 25, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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Solar Impulse 2 has begun the final leg of its record-breaking round-the-world journey on Saturday.

The aircraft, which is the first solar-powered plane to embark on a voyage around the world, left Cairo on Saturday evening and is expected to arrive at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi in about 48 hours.

"Trying to rest in #Si2 after taking off from Cairo. Excited to attempt the final leg of the round-the-world flight," Solar Impulse pilot Bertrand Piccard tweeted on Saturday.

The final journey, however, could be challenging as the plane flies through the Middle Eastern heat. According to the Solar Impulse team, the high temperatures in the region will put the plane's motors to test and could cause turbulence even at high altitudes, FoxNews.com reports.

Solar Impulse 2 is made of carbon fiber and has more than 17,000 solar cells built into its wings. The solar cells provide the plane with renewable energy through four motors. The energy is reserved in the plane's lithium polymer batteries, which provide power for flying at nighttime.

With Piccard at the controls, Solar Impulse 2 made its historic Atlantic crossing in June after a flight that lasted 71 hours.

Piccard has taken turns with fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg for each leg of the flight.

The Cairo-to-Abu Dhabi flight is the 17th and final leg of the global voyage, which began when Solar Impulse 2 flew from Abu Dhabi in March 2015.

The plane has covered over 25,700 miles since taking off on its first leg, and has spent over 509 hours of flight time.

According to Piccard, the sun-powered plane's journey proves the massive potential of renewable energy.

"The world of modern clean technologies, respect for the environment, innovation, pioneers - this is the world that Solar Impulse and its team would like to represent [and] promote," Piccard said while addressing the crowd during the plane's touchdown in Seville, Spain after completing the transatlantic journey.

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