Following the completion of the world’s first solar-powered intercontinental flight, the Solar Impulse airplane has returned home to Switzerland. After flying for 6,700 miles over four countries and two continents, the solar-powered airplane piloted by Bertrand Piccard just made its final landing in Payerne.

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The trip originally commenced on May 24th with eight stops that included landings in Madrid, Morocco and France. The Solar Impulse HB-SIA plane has 12,000 solar cells on its wings that power the plane’s four 10-horsepower engines. Thanks to the plane’s four batteries, the Solar Impulse plane is capable of flying day and night without fuel.

The Solar Impulse team’s next goal is to create a new solar-powered HB-SIB plane that will be capable of flying around the world using only power harnessed from the sun. According to Solar Impulse, the new plane will have a more spacious cockpit that will enable the pilot to recline fully during flights lasting from 4 to 6 days; it will have an increased battery size; its electrical circuitry will be isolated to enable flights in rain; and system redundancy will improve reliability.

Flight testing of the HB-SIB plane is planned for spring 2013, and the round-the-world flight is planned for between April and July 2014.

+ Solar Impulse