World's First Solar Intercontinental Flight (PHOTOS)

06/06/2012 11:24 | Updated 06 August 2012

It's not just Venus which is making headlines thanks to the light of the Sun.

The world's first solar-powered inter-continental flight has successfully landed in Morocco.

Swiss pilot Bertrand Piccard and co-pilot Andre Borschberg landed late on 5 June at Rabat Sale airport after flying over the strait of Gibraltar from Madrid's Barakas airport.

The 2,500km flight lasted for more than 19 hours, and a special terminal had to be set up in Morocco for the landing.

The plane - Swiss Solar Impulse - is as large as an Airbus A340, but is lighter than a car.

It charges 400kg lithium polymer batteries during the day, and can fly after dark on the power.

Solar Impulse

It flew at 5,500m and the pilots needed oxygen masks to breath in the freezing, high-altitude air.

A round-the-world flight is planned for 2014, according to the plane's designers.

"The question is not to use solar power for normal aeroplanes," Piccard told Sky.

"The question is more to demonstrate that we can achieve incredible goals, almost impossible goals, with new technologies, without fuel, just with solar energy, and raise awareness that if we can do it in the air, of course everybody can do it on the ground."

The plane will later take off for Ouarzazate in the south of Morocco for the launch by King Mohammed VI of construction of the largest-ever solar thermal plant.

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