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Swiss solar plane makes historic flight

[ 2010-07-09 11:19]     字号 [] [] []  
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An experimental solar-powered plane completed its first 24-hour test flight on Thursday, proving that the aircraft can collect enough energy from the sun during the day to stay aloft all night.

The plane, named Solar Impulse, successfully made the first such flight on purely solar energy, defying the hours of darkness to keep aloft for more than 24 hours.

Applause and cheers broke out at mission control at Payerne airbase in western Switzerland as dawn broke with the experimental plane still in the air.

"It's the first time ever that a solar airplane has flown through the night," said team chief Bertrand Piccard.

Flight director Claude Nicollier said that the flight had gone well overnight as pilot Andre Borschberg guided the experimental aircraft towards a landing after dawn.

The plane emerged from the night running only on the earlier 14-hour daytime charge its batteries took from its array of 12,000 solar cells on wings the size of an airliner's.

"It's a super flight, better than nominal," added Nicollier, a former space shuttle astronaut.

The controllers decided as darkness fell later in the day to press on with the night flight, despite fears that a sudden burst of strong high altitude wings at dusk had deprived Solar Impulse of some of the stored energy to last the night.


1. How can a solar plane stay aloft at night?

2. What is the name of the Swiss solar plane?

3. How many solar cells are on the plane?


1. It absorbs solar energy from the sun by day to stay aloft at night.

2. Solar Impulse.

3. 12,000.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Swiss solar plane makes historic flight

About the broadcaster:

Swiss solar plane makes historic flight

Renee Haines is an editor and broadcaster at China Daily. Renee has more than 15 years of experience as a newspaper editor, radio station anchor and news director, news-wire service reporter and bureau chief, magazine writer, book editor and website consultant. She came to China from the United States.