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Solar Impulse Update: Solar-Powered Plane Completes Record-Breaking Trip Around The World

Jul 28, 2016 04:37 AM EDT
Solar Impulse 2 Lands In Silicon Valley After Pacific Crossing
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA - APRIL 23: Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard and pilot Andre Borschberg of Solar powered plane 'Solar Impulse 2', celebrate after a flight from Hawaii during its circumnavigation, at Moffett Airfield in Silicon Valley, on April 23, 2016 in Mountain View, California. The Solar Impulse 2 is equipped with 17,000 solar cells, has a wingspan of 72 metres, and yet weighs just over 2 tonnes.
(Photo : Jean Revillard via Getty Images)

Solar Impulse 2 has touched down in Abu Dhabi, marking the end of its historic fuel-free trip around the world.

The solar-powered plane landed at the Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday after a 48-hour flight from Cairo, with pilot Bertrand Piccard at the controls. The Cairo-Abu Dhabi flight was the 17th and final leg of the plane's global journey, which began in March 2015 when the plane flew from Abu Dhabi to Oman.

Solar Impulse 2 has traveled 26,744 miles since taking off from Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the journey, and spent up to 558 hours of flight time, reports.

"The future is clean. The future is you. The future is now. Let's take it further," Piccard said amidst applause in Abu Dhabi.

Solar Impulse chairman Piccard was also behind the controls when Solar Impulse 2 became the first solar-powered plane to cross the Atlantic during the 15th leg of its journey, a flight that took 71 hours. He had taken turns with fellow Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg in flying the single-seater sun-powered plane around the world.

Solar Impulse 2 has over 17,000 solar cells built into its wings. The solar cells provide the plane with renewable energy through four motors. The energy is stored in the plane's lithium polymer batteries, which provide power for flying during nighttime.

The 17-leg journey covered about 42,000 km, crossing four continents, two oceans and three seas, BBC reports.

The longest leg of the journey was the 8,924-km flight from Nagoya, Japan to Hawaii, U.S., which lasted nearly 118 hours. Borschberg was at the controls during this leg, and he broke the world record for longest (time duration) uninterrupted solo flight.

According to the Solar Impulse team, the final journey was one of the most challenging, as the plane flew through the Middle Eastern heat, and the high temperatures in the region put the plane's motors to test and caused turbulence.

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