Solar Impulse, a completely solar-powered airplane that has been setting new standards for what the technology can achieve, completed the world's first international manned solar-powered flight when it landed at Brussels' main airport on Friday night, 13 hours after taking off from its home base in Switzerland.
The aircraft, which has more 12,000 solar cells covering its 63.4m-long wings, took off from an airfield at Payerne in western Switzerland at 8:40 local time, rose to an altitude of 12,400 feet and touched down at Brussels airport after a 13-hour flight.
In an interview after the landing, Solar Impulse co-founder Bertrand Piccard said, ''Our goal is to create a revolution in the minds of the people ... to promote solar energies - not necessarily a revolution in aviation.''
The project's other co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg echoed these views. "The objective is to demonstrate what we can do with existing technology in terms of renewable energy and energy savings," he told Reuters by telephone during the flight.
Ex-Swiss air force pilot Borschberg, 57, who has been the plane's pilot since its first flight, believes such solar-harnessing technology can be used to power cars and homes. "It is symbolic to be able to go from one place to another using solar energy," he said.
The landing was broadcast live in many places, and was seen worldwide on the internet.