Solar Aircraft To Attempt Globe-Spanning Flight

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Dec. 3 2012 3:36 PM

Solar Aircraft To Attempt Globe-Spanning Flight

A solar-powered aircraft that weighs less than an SUV might become the first plane to travel around the world using no fossil fuels.

CBS’ 60 Minutes unveiled new video of the ultra-modern vessel, Solar Impulse, over the weekend. It features a wingspan of 200 feet, comparable to a commercial jetliner, allowing for 2,000 solar panels to harness the plane‚s energy. The Impulse is the first plane to fly at night without fuel.

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The Swiss creators of the $120 million aircraft hope to make the record-breaking flight in 2015, expanding on previous trials allowed it to go 2,500 miles and fly uninterrupted for 24 hours. The trip around the world would take 20 days and 20 nights, including a five-day flight over the Pacific, where its lightweight parts would be especially vulnerable to storm damage.