Solar-powered plane leaves Spain for Morocco

Associated Press
Crew members of Solar Impulse project check the HB-SIA experimental aircraft before taking off at Barajas airport in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, June 5, 2012. The solar-powered airplane arrived in Madrid on May 25, 2012 from Payerne, Switzerland, and now goes on to Rabat, Morocco on its first transcontinental trip. The mission is described as the final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight with a new and improved aircraft in 2014.(AP Photo/Alberto Di Lolli)
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MADRID (AP) — An experimental solar-powered plane has taken off from Madrid en route to Morocco in a bid to complete its first transcontinental flight.

The single-seat aircraft fitted with 12,000 solar cells is the size of a jumbo jet. Organizers said in a statement it is due to arrive in the Moroccan capital Rabat late Tuesday night after leaving Spain before dawn.

Solar Impulse arrived from Switzerland in late May on the first leg of the journey.

The mission is being described as a final dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight with a new and improved plane in 2014.

The project began in 2003 and is estimated to cost about $100 million over 10 years.

The two-leg Europe to Africa trip covers 2,500 kilometers (1,554 miles).

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