TECH
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Solar Impulse: First Solar Plane Completes Runway Test (VIDEO)

The Solar Impulse, an aircraft with ambitions of being the first solar-powered plane to fly around the world, recently completed its first runway tests in Switzerland.

See the plane in action in the videos below.

The plane weighs about as much as car (approximately 3,527 pounds), boasts a 207-foot-long wingspan (equivalent to that of most commercial jets), and has 11,628 solar cells attached to its wings, according to the New York Times.

Wired writes of the test,

With the four electric motors running on sunlight, these first tests were slow, only getting up to about 10 knots. [...] Next up, according to the team, is taxi tests up to takeoff speed of about 20 knots for some short "flea hops" into the air. First flights beyond the airport runway are expected early next year.

The team hopes that the Solar Impulse will eventually become the first solar airplane circumnavigate the globe, flying 36 hours nonstop, without fuel.

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