As with all popular things, the sequel has been announced, and the stakes have been raised. Why fly from one country to another when you could fly around the world? The Solar Impulse 2 plans to take off from the Persian Gulf, heading out over India and wrapping itself around the world, only touching down to switch pilots (which seems fair).
The aircraft has a 236-foot wingspan, and is covered in 17,238 solar cells. That’s wider than a 747 (with 17,238 more solar cells than one), but the cockpit only holds one person at a time. It’s made of carbon fiber and weighs just 5,000 pounds, with engines that are 90 percent more efficient than the turbofans that drive commercial jets. During the flight, the plane will cruise at 28,000 feet to soak up the Sun during the day, dropping down to 16,000 feet at night. It only goes 40 mph, so the trip around the world will take 20 to 25, including time spent switching between pilots.
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