Solar Impulse 2 is expected to take off from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania around midnight on the latest leg of its solar-powered journey around the world, arriving at JFK airport in New York around 4 a.m. ET Tuesday.
The flight will mark the 14th leg of the historic trip. Piloted by Andre Borschberg, the plane is expected to make a flyby of the Statue of Liberty between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. ET Tuesday.
“I am looking forward to this incredible flyover of the #StatueofLiberty,” Borschberg tweeted Monday.
“I will be able to observe with awe the lights of the amazing city which never sleeps,” he added, in a subsequent tweet.
The plane is the brainchild of explorer and Solar Impulse Chairman Piccard, who is taking it in turns with his fellow Swiss pilot Borschberg to fly the aircraft on its journey across the globe.
The aircraft, a larger version of a single-seat prototype that first flew six years ago, is made of carbon fiber and has 17,248 solar cells built into the wing that supply the plane with renewable energy, via four motors. The solar cells recharge four lithium polymer batteries, which provide power for night flying.
Solar Impulse 2 typically flies between 30 mph and 40 mph, although this can increase and decrease significantly depending on wind speed.
The plane has travelled 18,375 miles since setting off from on the first leg of the trip from Abu Dhabi to Oman in March 2015, and has racked up almost 385 hours of flight time. The plane then made stops in India, Myanmar and China, en route to an unscheduled stop in Nagoya, Japan. The plane originally left Nanjing, China, for Hawaii, but diverted to Japan because of unfavorable weather.
Borschberg piloted Solar Impulse 2 on the eighth leg of its journey, landing in Hawaii on July 3 2015 after an incredible 4,480-mile, 118-hour flight from Japan. The journey shattered the record for longest solar-powered flight in terms of distance and duration, easily surpassing the 1,491-mile, 44-hour record Borschberg set when flying from China to Japan on the prior leg of the trip. Borschberg also broke the record for longest non-stop solo flight without refueling, which previously stood at 76 hours and 45 minutes.
The aircraft then had a nine-month layover in Hawaii while the Solar Impulse team fixed damage that occurred during the flight from Japan.
Piccard flew the subsequent leg, a risky 62-hour nonstop flight from Hawaii to California. Since then, Solar Impulse 2 has made stops in Phoenix, Tulsa, Dayton, and Lehigh Valley International Airport, Penn. From New York, the plane will fly across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. The final leg of the odyssey is from Europe to Abu Dhabi.
The plane proves the immense potential of solar-powered technology, according to Piccard. Solar Impulse 2, he told FoxNews.com last year, could spark increased interest in technologies such as LED lights and electric cars, as well as lightweight vehicles.
A huge inflatable mobile hangar that can be quickly assembled and disassembled is being used to shelter Solar Impulse 2 on its journey around the world.
Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers