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Huge Solar Plane Begins Slow Flight Across The U.S.

The Solar Impulse, a solar-powered airplane with the 208-foot wing-span, has begun a slow journey across the United States.

We've told you about the Swiss plane before. A year ago, the plane took 20 hours to fly from Switzerland to Spain and then flew to Morocco completing its first transcontinental flight.

Today, Solar Impulse took off from Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif. It is expected to land in Phoenix, then head to Dallas, work its way to St. Louis and eventually finish its cross-country trip in Washington, D.C. and New York City.

The ultimate goal of the mission is to have a solar-powered plane fly around the world. The project's website lists some amazing facts about the HB-SIA: The average flying speed? 43 mph. The take-off speed? 27 mph. Maximum cruising altitude: 27,900 feet. Weight? 3,527 pounds. They also have details on the HB-SIB, a plane being built using the lessons learned from this one. HB-SIB is what they expect will be able to make the around-the-world trip.

What's more, they hope it will make the trip without using any fuel.

"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, told CBS.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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