TECH

Solar Impulse 'Zero Fuel' Plane Begins Journey Across USA

03/05/2013 15:13 BST | Updated 03/07/2013 10:12 BST

The first attempt to cross the United States in a solar powered plane has begun.

The Solar Impulse plane has a wingspan of 63 metres - as big as an Airbus A340 - but weighs only as much as a small car.

It is powered by 12,000 solar cells which charge a set of lithium-ion batteries below the wing - during daylight hours, obviously.

solar impluse

The solar panels provide enough energy to completely power the craft's four electric motors - though it will have to make its journey across the US in several stages.

They have now set off from Moffett Field in San Francisco and will take 19 hours to make it to Phoenix in Arizona.

The plane will take weeks to make it over the continent, with stops planned in Dallas, St Louis and New York among other cities. The team eventually planes to journey around the entire world in the craft.