Can 17,248 solar panels power one pilot around the world?


The team behind the Solar Impulse 2 has already flown across the contiguous United States, now it wants to fly around the globe. (Laurent Gillieron/EPA)

Mission: To complete a round-the-world flight in 2015
The plane: Solar Impulse 2
Its top speed: 87 mph
Seats: 1 pilot
Weight: 2.5 tons
Wingspan: 236 feet
Number of solar panels: 17,248
Cruising altitude: 27,887 feet (day); 4,921 feet (night)

Solar Impulse chief executive Andre Borschberg told the Associated Press the trip around the world will take 20 flying days. The newly finished plane will be tested in May and June with plans of making the global trek in 2015. Here’s a closer look at the plane being unveiled in Switzerland:


The Solar Impulse 2 is shown at Switzerland’s Payerne Air Force Base.(Laurent Gillieron/EPA)

The Solar Impulse 2 is powered entirely by the sun. (Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images)

The Solar Impulse 2 is shown in Switzerland. (Fabrice Coffrini/Getty Images)

The plane maxes out at a top speed of 87 mph. (Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)

People stand around the plane. (Laurent Gillieron/AP)

A look at the Solar Impulse 2 from under the wing. (Laurent Gillieron/AP)
Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland | April 14