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Solar Impulse sets 2015 around-the-world goal


Adventurers Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg want to fly their solar-powered plane around the world over the course of 20 days and nights in 2015, the pair announced in an interview on “60 Minutes.” Earlier this year, the four-engine electric plane flew from Switzerland to Morocco over the course of about a week, its longest trip to date. About 12,000 solar panels atop Solar Impulse’s wings power the motors and charge batteries that allow the plane to keep flying at night. Piccard says the most challenging part of a circumnavigation will be the segment across the Pacific Ocean, which he estimates would take five days. There are few options for landing or diverting in the case of bad weather; even stiff headwinds can ground Solar Impulse, which averaged 32 mph during its summer trip from Switzerland to Morocco. Piccard and Borschberg are modifying the aircraft and plan to fly it from California to Virginia sometime in 2013.