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Solar Impulse 2

Solar Impulse 2 is a long-range plane powered by the sun. It has the weight of a family car (2,300 kg, 5,100 pounds) and a wingspan equal to that of the largest passenger airliners. Swiss psychiatrist and aEronaut Bertrand Piccard, who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, and Swiss businessman André Borschberg pioneered the project. The Solar Impulse's mission is to achieve the first circumnavigation of the Earth by a piloted fixed-wing aircraft using only solar power.

In December 2009, Solar Impulse 1, a single-seat monoplane, took off under its own power and flew an entire diurnal solar cycle, including nearly nine hours of night flying, in a 26-hour flight. Solar Impulse 1 was designed to be able to remain airborne up to 36 hours. Piccard and Borschberg completed successful solar-powered flights from Switzerland to Spain and Morocco in 2012, and conducted a multi-stage flight across the USA in 2013.

Building on the experience of Solar Impulse 1, the Solar Impulse 2 takes on a slightly larger design. It will take off in late February 2014 and return by late July. Its journey will span approximately 25 flight days at speeds between 50 and 100 km (30 to 60 miles) per hour. On its five-month journey of 35,000 km (22,000 miles), the engines will be powered only by solar energy. The two Swiss pilots will take turns at the controls in the tiny cabin for five consecutive days and nights in the air.

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