First attempt at around-the-world solar-powered flight to take off from Abu Dhabi in March, 2015

A photo from a recent test flight of the Solar Impulse aircraft.

A photo from a recent test flight of the Solar Impulse aircraft.

Solar Impulse is described as "the only airplane of perpetual endurance, able to fly day and night on solar power, without a drop of fuel." With support from Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, the Solar Impulse team will attempt the first-ever solar-powered flight around the world in March, 2015.

The long-range aircraft project was founded by Bertrand Piccard, a Swiss psychiatrist and aeronaut who co-piloted the first balloon to circle the world non-stop, and Swiss businessman André Borschberg.

From a New York Times article on the Abu Dhabi connection:

The Solar Impulse experimental flight program is one of a slew of international projects in which Masdar has invested, reinforcing its status as a pioneer in solar energy innovation.

"We wanted to demonstrate the viability of this revolutionary clean technology," said Ahmad Belhoul, who took over as chief executive of Masdar, a unit of Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi government's investment arm, in March. "There have been successful internal flights, but the idea is to have global travel that is exclusively powered by solar energy."

The plan is to span the globe, crossing the world's major oceans in flights lasting up to five days at a time. The total trip is expected to take about four months.