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Solar Impulse Flight Highlights Challenges

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The solar-powered aircraft Solar Impulse landed safely at Ouarzazate International Airport, Kingdom of Morocco, after flying 17 hours and twenty minutes over 683 km, and not without challenges. Pilot Andre Borschberg told local journalists it was "one of the most difficult flights we've done." The area presents pilots with frequent thunderstorms, strong winds and thermal activity. The team's flight planners used sophisticated modeling programs supported with information from local meteorologists to optimize the fragile aircraft's route. But Borschberg himself still found challenges in working with the information.

Following his successful flight and landing, Borschberg told reporters "it wasn't easy to find the adequate altitude to avoid turbulence, to charge the batteries and to avoid being too cold." But, he said, "striving for the impossible is the DNA of our team." The flight flew at an average altitude of 16,405 feet at an average speed of 64.82 km/hr. The team chose the Moroccan destination in part for its dedication to solar power activities. Solar Impulse landed near the site of a planned thermo-solar power plant that, when complete, will be capable of producing 160 megawatts. The plant is part of a larger complex that aims to generate 500 MW by 2015.

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