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Solar Impulse 2 set for next leg in round-the-world flight

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The Solar Impulse 2 will resume its record-breaking quest Thursday to circle the globe without consuming a drop of fuel, with a flight from Arizona to Oklahoma.

[LOS ANGELES] The Solar Impulse 2 will resume its record-breaking quest Thursday to circle the globe without consuming a drop of fuel, with a flight from Arizona to Oklahoma.

The experimental sun-powered plane, piloted by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, is set to take off from Phoenix at 3:00 am (1000 GMT).

"After sustained efforts from the entire team, at the Mission Control Center and on the ground, we have found a clear weather window that gives way for a 17 hour and 50 minute flight to complete the flight to reach the heart of the United States," the Solar Impulse 2 (SI2) team said in a statement.

"The objective is to reach New York as soon as possible!" After being grounded for several months to undergo repairs, the plane resumed its round-the-world voyage in April, flying from Hawaii to California. It then flew to Pheonix on May 2.

It is expected to make one or two more stops in the United States before landing in New York City.

The SI2 was grounded in July last year when its batteries suffered problems halfway through its 21,700-mile (35,000-kilometre) circumnavigation.

The crew took several months to repair the damage from high tropical temperatures during the flight's final Pacific stage, a 4,000-mile (6,437-kilometre) flight between Nagoya, Japan and Hawaii.

The aircraft was flown on that stage by Mr Piccard's teammate Andre Borschberg, whose 118-hour journey smashed the previous record of 76 hours and 45 minutes set by US adventurer Steve Fossett in 2006.

The plane is expected to cross the United States, stopping in New York before a trans-Atlantic flight to Europe, from where the pilots plan to make their way back to the point of departure in Abu Dhabi.

AFP