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Solar Impulse completes first transcontinental flight


The one-seat solar powered aircraft Solar Impulse landed safely in Rabat, Morocco Tuesday, ending a two-leg mission that took the plane on its first flight from one continent to another. Solar Impulse was grounded in Madrid for about 10 days as the plane’s two test pilots waited for better winds aloft. Adventurer Bertrand Piccard flew the 19-hour leg this week by himself at an average speed of just 32 mph; the other pilot, André Borschberg, flew the equally long leg between Switzerland and Madrid. Solar Impulse departed Madrid hours before sunrise Tuesday morning, using electricity stored in its batteries to power the four electric motors spanned across its 208-foot-wide wings. Solar Impulse now goes back to the workshop, where the aircraft’s developers will refine a new prototype aircraft they hope to fly around the world by 2014.