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Swiss Solar Airplane Lands in Madrid, Halfway Through to Morocco

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Solar Impulse, world’s first and only aircraft powered solely by the 12,000 solar cells mounted on its wings started a journey to Rabat in Morocco, with a stop in Madrid. So, today, Andre Borschberg, the pilot, landed in Madrid this morning at 6:30 GMT and seemed very excited about it.

Last year, Borschberg flew 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) from Lausanne, Switzerland, where the company’s HQ is, to Paris and Brussels. About the current flight he said that it “went very well and thanks to the team of meteorologists, everything went according to the plan: it was extraordinary.”

“It was incredible to fly alongside the barrier of clouds during most of the flight and not need to hesitate to fly above them. This confirms our confidence in the capacity ofsolar energy even further,” he added.

However, this trip is only a heat-up for what’s to come in 2014. The team plans to circle the globe by relying only on solar power, just to prove it can be done.

Well, it can be done, but the Solar Impulse has the wingspan of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a car, and still it can carry only one person. If it were to seat two people probably that wingspan would be wider or the height reduced. A commercial airliner couldn’t make it on solar power alone, but the applications for smaller aircraft make the prototype and the team’s work worth watching.

We’ll be back with further details as soon as it lands.

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