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Solar Impulse completes first flight

The Solar Impulse soars over Payerne Keystone

Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard's team has successfully completed its first flight with a prototype for a round-the-world solar effort.

The Solar Impulse plane landed after 1.5 hours in the air near its base, a military airfield at Payerne in western Switzerland.

Piccard said the aim of the two-hour test flight was to examine if the plane with the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a small car could keep a straight trajectory.

Prior to Wednesday’s historic flight, flea-hop tests were conducted over the past four months, taking the plane no higher than 60 centimetres off the ground and 300 metres in distance.

A night flight is planned later this year, and then a new plane will be built based on the results of the tests.

The team plans to fly it around the world next year.

Solar Impulse has 12,000 solar cells mounted onto the wing, which will supply energy to the four electric motors with a maximum power of 10 HP each.

During the day they will also charge the polymer lithium batteries (400kg), which will allow the aircraft to fly at night.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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