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Solar-powered plane soars over the Moroccan desert

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, June 29, 2012 22:19 EDT
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Solar-powered plane in Morocco via AFP
 
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An experimental solar-powered plane, flying without using any fuel, arrived late on Friday in Rabat on a return journey to Switzerland after its successful flight over the Moroccan desert.

The Swiss-made Solar Impulse took off from Quarzazate in southern Morocco at 0733 GMT, and touched down in the Moroccan capital at 2320 GMT, to applause from the Solar Impulse team and Moroccan officials.

“Magnificent, very nice flight” said Swiss pilot Andre Borschberg as he climbed down from the plane.

Borschberg had landed in Ouarzazate, about 550 kilometres (340 miles) from Rabat, on June 22 after having to abandon an attempt a week earlier because of strong winds and turbulence near the Atlas mountains.

That was the final stage of a trip that has taken him from his native Switzerland to Spain and then to Morocco.

The giant high-tech aircraft, which has the wingspan of a jumbo jet but weighs no more than a medium-sized car, is fitted with 12,000 solar cells feeding four electric motors driving propellors.

Last month, the solar-powered plane made the 2,500-kilometre (1,550-mile) journey from Madrid to Rabat, its longest to date and its first between continents, after an inaugural flight to Paris and Brussels last year.

The plane’s next journey is set to be a return to its departure point Switzerland via Madrid. The exact date is not known.

The flights are intended as a rehearsal for the goal of a round-the-world trip in 2014 by an updated version of the plane.

AFP Photo/Abdelhak Senna

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
AFP journalists cover wars, conflicts, politics, science, health, the environment, technology, fashion, entertainment, the offbeat, sports and a whole lot more in text, photographs, video, graphics and online.
 
 
 
 
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