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renewable energy


Solar Impulse takes off for world trip final leg


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The plane took off in the early hours of this morning (EPA/Jean Revillard/REZO/Solar Impulse)

The plane took off in the early hours of this morning

(EPA/Jean Revillard/REZO/Solar Impulse)

The Swiss solar powered plane Solar Impulse has taken off on the last leg of its round-the-world trip. The plane, which is powered completely by energy from the sun, left Cairo, Egypt in the early hours of this morning.

The flight should last for two days and nights, and is headed for Abu Dhabi. Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard is at the controls, the plane’s other pilot André Borschberg has already completed his last trip in the aircraft for this project.

You can track the plane's progress live in this feed from the cockpit.

The Solar Impulse aircraft made history in 2010 as the first solar plane to fly through the night. After flying across the United States in 2013, a newer version was made, and Si2 set off in March 2015 to achieve some more world firsts.

The flight around the world has involved travelling over 40,000 kilometres (25,000 miles) and stops in 17 destinations.

The plane hit a snag when overheating meant it had to stop in Hawaii in July 2015, and then spend the winter there. However, it was repaired and set off again in April 2016 to complete the global mission.

The plane has a wingspan of 72 metres, slightly wider than a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. The cockpit measures 3.8 m3, and has space for just one person at the controls. That means the pilots have had to learn to sleep and live entirely in the small space for days at a time while Si2 is in the air.

The plane weighs 2,300 kilograms (5,071 pounds) – about as much as an SUV.

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