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Solar Airplane Set for Fuel-Free Flight Across U.S.

The team behind last year’s successful intercontinental solar airplane flight, are planning to fly across the United States beginning in May, powered solely by the sun.

The team behind the Solar Impulse project, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, have seen successful flights from Spain to Morrocco in 2012 with their solar plane, proving the viability of both the concept of solar flight, as well as the design of their aircraft.

The team plans to launch the Solar Impulse Across America 2013 by taking off from San Francisco in early May, and flying across the country to New York City over the next two months, making stops along the way.

The current version of the plane, which has a huge wingspan (63 meters) yet weighs as little as an automobile (1600 kg), is the latest step in their goal to build a solar-powered aircraft that can circle the globe by 2015.

Solar Impulse is powered by some 11,000 solar cells in the wings, which harvest the sun’s energy and feed a lithium-ion battery bank, which then provides power to four electric motors for propulsion. It can take off from a standard runway on its own power, and fly at speeds up to 43 mph, for up to 36 hours continuously.

Find out more about the Solar Impulse Across America 2013 at their website.

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