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Solar Impulse 2 successfully touches down in Silicon Valley

Record-breaking solar-powered aircraft, Solar Impulse 2 (Si2) has finished the ninth leg of its round-the-world trip over the weekend, after being grounded in Hawaii since last summer.


Solar powered plane 'Solar Impulse 2', piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, flys over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, after a flight from Hawaii
Jean Revillard | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Solar powered plane 'Solar Impulse 2', piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, flys over the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, after a flight from Hawaii

On Saturday night, the solar-powered plane touched down at Moffett Airfield, located in California's Silicon Valley, after flying from Hawaii. The flight over the Pacific Ocean lasted over 62 hours and flew more than 4,000km without fuel.

Until last week, the solar-powered plane had been forced to take a nine-month break, after it suffered "irreversible damage to overheated batteries", having flown more than 117 hours from the Japanese city of Nagoya, to Hawaii.

The plane resumed its journey on Thursday morning in Kalaeloa, Hawaii, and was piloted by the project's chairman, Bertrand Piccard.

The plane started its epic adventure back in early March 2015 in Abu Dhabi, and logged eight historic flights from then until July 2015, including stopping off in China and India. Both Piccard and the project's chief executive, André Borschberg, take turns to fly the plane.

The carbon-fiber aircraft weighs over 5,000 lbs, and is equipped with more than 17,240 solar cells stretched out on its wings, which helps power the propellers and electric engines.

Apart from breaking world records, the purpose of Solar Impulse is to look at how solar power and renewable technology overall can be implemented in everyday lifestyles, such as transportation.

The journey is expected to continue, travelling on to destinations including New York, Europe and/or North Africa. In March, the project's CEO and co-founder André Borschberg told CNBC that future locations may vary, due to the change in weather conditions.

Following the landing, Piccard, said in a statement that Solar Impulse 2 highlighted how exploration in today's society was "no longer about conquering new territories" but about finding new options to create a better quality of life on our planet.

"(Solar Impulse 2) is more than an airplane: it is a concentration of clean technologies, a genuine flying laboratory, and illustrates that solutions exist today to meet the major challenges facing our society."