Solar Impulse, solar-powered plane, lands in Rabat after flying from Spain
Solar Impulse, a solar-powered plane, has landed in Rabat, Morocco, after flying from Spain, completing the second leg of its pioneering journey.
Pilot Bertrand Piccard landed the Solar Impulse in Rabat, 19 hours after taking off from Madrid.
The plane – the size of a jumbo jet – was powered by 12,000 solar cells turning four electrical motors.
The 2,500 km-trip (1,550 miles), begun in Switzerland in May, is described as a rehearsal for a world tour in 2014 .
Made of carbon fibre, Solar Impulse is the size of an Airbus A340 but only weighs as much as an average family car, according to its creators.
People were able to follow the aircraft’s flight progress via a virtual dashboard on Solar Impulse’s website, which showed the plane’s battery status, altitude and speed.
Bertrand Piccard was also posting live updates of his journey on Twitter (@bertrandpiccard). In one of his tweets, the former balloonist described the “great feeling” of gliding across southern European skies with solar-powered engines.
The Solar Impulse project was launched in 2003 by Bertrand Piccard and Swiss pilot Andre Boschberg who flew the first leg of the journey from Switzerland to Madrid in late May.
The aircraft made history in July 2010 when it became the first manned solar plane to complete a 26-hour nonstop flight.
The landmark flight proved that the sun’s energy was enough to keep the plane in the air, even at night.
The organizers now hope to go on a round-the-world tour with a new and improved Solar Impulse model in 2014.
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