Key dates of sun-powered Solar Impulse plane project

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Key dates of Solar Impulse, a solar-powered flight project masterminded by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, which made history Thursday as the first manned plane to fly around the clock on energy from the sun:

22 May 2007: Bertrand Piccard unveils Solar Impulse after four years of planning. The project sets its sights on crossing the Atlantic Ocean, before making a round-the-world tour, powered by the sun.

26 June 2009: Inauguration of the solar-powered plane prototype at the military aerodome in northern Switzerland's Duebendorf airbase.

7 April 2010: Solar Impulse completes its first flight lasting 1.5 hours

7 July 2010: Solar Impulse takes off in the early morning from western Switzerland's Payerne for a non-stop flight through day and night, piloted by Andre Borschberg.

8 July 2010: Solar Impulse lands safely after a flight of 26 hours and nine minutes, having reached a maximum altitude of 8,564 metres above sea level during the flight.

2011: Longer missions lasting several days and nights with the current aircraft, HB-SIA, expected.

Until 2012: Designing and building a new, bigger plane, HB-SIB, which would have more cockpit space to allow the pilot to stretch out. It will also be better suited to longer journeys and have improved technology, as it would be lighter, more efficient, and have thinner solar cells.

2013-2014: Attempts at transatlantic and round the world flights in HB-SIB.

© 2010 AFP

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