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A solar-powered airplane that can fly at night
It has the wingspan of a jumbo jet, weighs around the same as an SUV, and stayed aloft at night on stored solar energy. Welcome to the future of zero-carbon air travel
 
A screenshot of the plane about to take flight.
A screenshot of the plane about to take flight.

The world's first solar-powered plane capable of flying at night has completed a 26-hour test flight in the skies over Switzerland. The one-man aircraft, which resembles an enormous glider and has the same wingspan as an Airbus 340, relied on stored solar energy as it flew loops over Lake Neufchatel and nearby mountains at an average speed of 26 mph. It was developed by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard. This is a "wonderful achievement," says James Fallows in The Atlantic. Flying for more than day "without using a drop of gasoline" is a feat of human endeavor worth celebrating. Airline emissions are a "major environmental threat," says Sean McLachlan in AOL's Gadling blog, and we have to find some way of dealing with them. "Think of [this] as the modern equivalent of the Wright Brothers plane." Watch a news report on the test flight here:

 

 

 

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