Solar Impulse SA (Lausanne, Swtizerland), the company behind a multi-year exercise to demonstrate the viability of solar-powered flight and highlight the need to use the earth's resources carefully, has announced that its Solar Impulse 2 aircraft will begin its flight some time between late February and early March from Abu Dhabi.

The single-seater aircraft is made of carbon fiber, has a 72-meter wingspan, slightly larger than that of the Boeing 747-8I, but weighs 2,300kg, equivalent to that of a car. The 17,000 solar cells built into the wing supply four electric motors of 17.5 horse power each. During the day, the solar cells recharge lithium batteries weighing 633kg (2077lbs) which allow the aircraft to fly at night and therefore to have virtually unlimited autonomy.

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