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Sun 15 May 2011 12:02 PM

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Solar-energy plane makes first international flight

Solar Impulse took off from Payerne in western Switzerland and landed at Brussels airport after a 13-hour flight

Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
Solar-powered airplane, the Solar Impulse, is pictured just after landing at Brussels Airport, in Zaventem, on May 13, 2011. (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)
Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
The plane, operating fully on solar energy, completed its first international flight, which departed at 6 am from the Payerne airfield in Switzerland. (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)
Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
The Solar Impulse project began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of €90m ($128m) and has involved engineers from Swiss lift maker Schindler and research aid from Belgian chemicals group Solvay, Text: Reuters (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)
Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
The plane, which requires 12,000 solar cells, embarked on its first flight in April 2010 and completed a 26-hour flight, a record flying time for a solar powered aircraft, three months later (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)
Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
With an average flying speed of 70 km/h (44 mph), Solar Impulse is not an immediate threat to commercial jets, which can easily cruise at more than 10 times the speed. (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)
Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
Pilot Andre Borschberg (R), Belgian Prince Philippe (C) and Swiss scientist-adventurer Bertrand Piccard, pose for a photograph after the landing of the record-setting solar powered aircraft, the Solar Impulse, at the Brussels airport (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)
Solar-energy plane makes first international flight
Belgian Prince Philippe stands in front of the solar-powered airplane, the Solar Impulse, after its landing at the Brussels Airport in Zaventem, on May 13, 2011. Friday's flight was Solar Impulse's fifth. Previous flights did not leave Switzerland. A larger prototype is scheduled to fly around the world in 2013 (AFP/Getty Images/ Text: Reuters)