This is How a Plane Will Navigate Earth Using Solar Power Alone

By Jamie Condliffe on at

Last year, the team behind Solar Impulse 2 revealed the design of a plane that it hopes will be able to traverse the world without refuelling. Now, it's revealed the route it will take when it takes off—which will hopefully be in March.

The world tour will see the craft take off from Abu Dhabi, then stop in spots across Asia, America, southern Europe and northern Africa. Why so many breaks? Well, despite the fact that the 2,268-kilo, 236-foot wingspan craft doesn't need to refuel, its crew does.

This Is How a Plane Will Navigate Earth Using Solar Power Alone

The 17,000 solar panels on the aeroplane charge a 942-kilo lithium battery, allowing it to cruise at 88mph. But to keep the weight down, the crew needs to set down on terra firma every few days to pick up supplies and drop off waste. With the 88mph cruising speed and all those stops, the team hopes to make it back to Abu Dhabi in early August—a full five months after it first takes off.

Indeed, you should spare a thought for the crew aboard Solar Impulse 2: they'll be flying for days at a time in an unheated, unpressurised cockpit. Rather them than us. [Solar Impulse via BBC via Engadget]