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Solar-powered plane launches landmark global flight

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The Solar Impulse 2 taxis on the tarmac of al-Bateen airport in Abu Dhabi before taking off on March 9, 2015.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a historic journey that is set to promote green energy.

The aircraft called Solar Impulse 2 took off at 7:12 a.m. local time (0412 GMT) in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, on Monday and headed to the Omani capital city of Muscat as the first leg of its 12-leg journey that will take five months.

The single-seater plane will cross the Arabian Sea to India before traveling to Myanmar, China, Hawaii and New York.

André Borschberg of Switzerland and his compatriot Bertrand Piccard will take turns piloting the aircraft for 21,747 miles (35,000 kilometers).

“This project is a human project, it is a human challenge,” Borschberg told reporters on Sunday.

“We want to share our vision of a clean future,” said Piccard of the mission, adding, “Climate change is a fantastic opportunity to bring in the market new green technologies that save energy, save natural resources of our planet, make profit, create jobs, and sustain growth.”

The journey, with a total time of around 25 days, was initially set to start on Saturday but delayed due to high winds. It happened following the pilots’ 13 years of research and testing.

As the longest single leg of the journey, a single pilot will fly Solar Impulse 2 non-stop for five days over a distance of 8,500 kilometers (5,270 miles) across the Pacific Ocean between the Chinese city of Nanjing and Hawaii.

The pilots will be in contact with a control room in Monaco where 65 weathermen, air traffic controllers and engineers will follow the plane around the globe. A 65-member team of support staff will travel with the pilots.

The lightweight carbon fiber plane will travel at 50-100 kilometers per hour, with lowered speeds at night to prevent its 17,000 solar cells from draining too quickly.


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