The team behind the Solar Impulse 2–aka the groundbreaking solar-powered plane which could potentially stay in the air indefinitely–has announced its route around the world for what is set to be a record-breaking trip.
Powered only by the sun, courtesy of 17,000 solar panels, the futuristic vehicle will fly around the world in 20 days spread out over a period of several months. It will take off from Abu Dhabi in late February or early March, and stop at spots including Muscat, Oman; Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; Chongqing, China; and New York City, before arriving back in the United Arab Emirate capital in late July or early August. (For a more detailed itinerary, check out the official webpage here.)
As if the route wasn’t impressive enough for a solar-powered vehicle (that, needless to say, will be partially flying at night thanks to a solar-charged, 2,077 pound lithium battery), the Solar Impulse 2’s design is enough to make you do a double take: with a 236-foot width that makes it wider than a Boeing 747, but a 5,000-pound weight that makes it not much heavier than a standard light aircraft.
Pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg will be expected to fly for long periods in a cockpit that is both unheated and unpressurized.
“What we really wanted to demonstrate is how many incredible things we can make with renewable energies, with clean technologies,” Borschberg, cofounder of the Solar Impulse project, told the Associated Press previously. “Because so often we believe that clean technologies is a limit, for comfort, for mobility, for prosperity. And it’s the opposite.”
The video below will fill you in on more of the staggering details: