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Solar Impulse Takes Off on First Night Flight Attempt

Andre Borscherg
André Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project, gives the thumbs-up sign before takeoff Wednesday. AP Photo

July 7, 2010 —At 6:51 CDT/1251 UTC, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from Payerne Air Base, Switzerland, piloted by André Borscherg, CEO and co-founder of the Solar Impulse project. Throughout today the carbon fiber aircraft will be slowly ascending to an altitude of 8,500 meters, or nearly 28,000 feet, while charging its batteries with its 12,000 wing-mounted solar cells.

When the sun’s rays stop supplying the solar cells with energy (about two hours before sunset), the HB-SIA will start a slow descent to 1,500 meters (just under 5,000 ft). At that point the sun-charged batteries will take over to supply power for the flight until the next sunrise on July 8. If successful, it will be the longest and highest flight ever made by a solar plane.

“For 7 years now, the whole team has been passionately working to achieve this first decisive step of the project”, said Borschberg just before climbing into the cockpit Wednesday morning.

Learn more about the flight at www.solarimpulse.com.

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