Friday, July 9, 2010

Solar powered plane completes 24-hour flight

A solar powered aircraft has become the first to complete a 24-hour flight, using batteries charged during the day to keep it aloft at night.

The aircraft touched down on runway at Payerne airfield, Switzerland at exactly 8:00 a.m., The Telegraph reports.

Helpers rushed to stabilize the pioneering plane as it touched down, ensuring that its massive 207-foot (63-meter) wingspan didn't touch the ground and topple the craft.

The team behind the project says it has now shown the single-seat plane can theoretically stay in the air indefinitely, recharging its batteries using 12,000 solar cells.

Pilot Andre Borschberg had flown over the Jura mountains west of the Swiss Alps since daybreak yesterday, absorbing sunlight to charge the batteries.

Four electric motors and propellers power the single-seater plane. It weighs about the same as a small car, despite having a 207-foot wingspan, similar to a large commercial jet. 

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