After 12 years of design, the Swiss-engineered airplane Solar Impulse 2 will begin its five month flight around the world on Monday. Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will share piloting duties.
Piccard and Borschberg have been a part of the Solar Impulse team for years now (Piccard is the president of Solar Impulse and Borschberg is the co-founder and CEO). The two men hold eight world records for flight, including the first solar-powered flight across the U.S. in the original Solar Impulse.
On March 21, 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones completed the First non-stop Balloon Flight around the world.
The plane is expected to launch from Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, early Monday morning.
The flight should take around five months to complete, and the 21,748-mile journey has been divided into 12 manageable trips. The single-cabin airplane has a 236-foot wingspan covered in 17,248 solar cells that power four electric motors. Because custom made batteries store energy from the sun, the Solar Impulse 2 can also fly at night and cloudy days.
After taking off in Abu Dhabi, the Solar Impulse 2 will make stops in Oman, India, Myanmar, China, the United States, and Southern Europe or North Africa before landing back in Abu Dhabi sometime in July. You can track the plane’s progress here.