History was made on Tuesday as the first entirely solar powered plane completed its round trip around the world. Despite being the first journey of its kind, the plane, Solar Impulse, was developed as a means to show off the capabilities of renewable energy.
With each leg taking up to 5 days of continuous flight, the journey as a whole took 16 legs to complete. During the longest leg of the journey Solar Impulse flew 5,000 miles from Japan to Hawaii, breaking the record for the longest in-air time by an aircraft.
With a wingspan 4.5 meters wider than a Boeing 747, and weighing only 2.3 tonnes, Solar Impulse is covered in 17,000 solar cells that were used to power the entirety of the journey. While it is capable of traveling at a max speed of about 140 km/h, Solar Impulse would usually travel at about 50 km/h in order to conserve energy.
The single seat plane was flown solo by Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, alternating command of the plane between legs.
The long journey of Solar Impulse began in March of 2015 in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, and after spending a combined total of 23 days in the air it ended its journey back where it started.