6 Amazing Facts About the Solar Plane

Today began the first leg of Solar Impulse-2's record-breaking attempt to fly around the world utilizing the power of the sun. Learn all about this amazing aircraft and its epic mission here.

The sun-powered aircraft Solar Impulse 2 completed the initial leg of its attempt to circle the world without using a drop of fuel, landing in Oman 13 hours after taking off from Abu Dhabi. Here are some fast facts about the plane, its pilots and its mission.

  • The plane has a wingspan of 72m (wider than a 747 jumbo jet) and weighs 2.3 tons (about the average family car.)
  • 17,000 solar cells line the top of the wings, which charge lithium-ion batteries.
  • Four 17.5 horsepower electric motors power the propellers, moving the plane at speeds between 50 and 100 km/hour. (It will travel more slowly at night to conserve battery power.)
  • The plane is piloted by Andre Borschberg (one of the Solar Impulse co-founders) and Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard. The two will take turns flying the single-seat craft.
  • Over next five months, Solar Impulse-2 will fly from continent to continent, crossing both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
  • It will make 12 stops on its projected 25 days of flight. The longest leg be a non-stop five day journey across the Pacific Ocean from China to Hawaii.

Follow the epic journey via live cams and photos here.

Watch pilot Andre Borschberg give the BBC a guided tour of the solar plane.


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