A Solar Impulse model HB-SIA airplane took off from Switzerland Wednesday morning in an attempt to be the first solar-powered plane to fly for 24 hours, according to CNET news. The plane is designed to fly at night with solar power stored during the day.
After climbing to an altitude of nearly 28,000 feet during daylight, pilot Andre Borschberg will take the plane down to 4,900 feet and attempt to keep the plane in flight until sunrise Thursday, local time.
If the attempt is successful, the Solar Impulse team will try a trans-Atlantic flight in 2011 in a slightly lighter model, followed by an around-the-world attempt in 2012.
Seventy designers, engineers, and other specialists began the project seven years ago. The HB-SIA was unveiled last December and underwent test flights in May.