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Solar plane embarks on a really, really slow cross-country flight

In a huge first for aviation, the solar powered plane, Solar Impulse took off early Friday morning from Moffett Field in California to start the first leg of a pioneering cross-country flight. But it'll take some time -- the experimental plane is hoping to reach its final destination of New York's JFK airport in around two months. A typical trip on a non-stop fuel-filled plane would take a little over six hours.


With 12,000 solar cells built into the wings, the Swiss-made carbon-fiber aircraft is able to fly 24-hours a day. During the light hours, the solar panels are able to recharge the 881-pound lithium batteries in order to provide power to the plane at night.

Solar Impulse is currently on its way to its first stop at Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. The plane will then hop between Dallas, St. Louis, Virginia and finally finishing up in New York. They predict that each leg of the trip will take 20 to 25 hours and pilots plan to stop for 10 days between each flight.

Even with its slow pace, the creators are on to something big and they do not plan to stop with this cross-country expedition. In 2015 the Solar Impulse is expected to make the first zero-fuel flight around the world.

"If we all challenged certitudes by driving change and being pioneers in our everyday lives, we can create innovative solutions for society's biggest challenges," Andre Borschberg, Solar Impulse co-founder, CEO and pilot said in a statement.

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