A solar powered plane called Solar Impulse has just passed over the Straits of Gibraltar on its journey from Madrid, Spain to Rabat, Morocco. The flight is part of the second leg of the pioneering journey which started in Switzerland in late May, and is a practice for a round the world trip that they plan in the future.
The Solar Impulse project was first started back in 2003 by Mr Piccard and a Swiss pilot Andre Boschberg, and has since grown to include a team of 50 inter-disciplinary specialists working with 100 outside advisors.
Solar Impulse is the size of a jumbo jet, but is made from carbon fibre which means it weighs no more than the average family car. Its 12,000 solar cells provide enough power for it to take off on its own and give it the potential to remain airborne for 36 hours.
In July 2010 Solar Impulse became the first manned solar powered aircraft to remain airborne for 26 hours, including 9 hours of night flying. Proving that energy from the sun alone is enough to keep a plane in the sky, even during the night.
Andre Boschberg started the 2,5000km (1,550 mile) test journey by flying from Switzerland to Madrid. Bertrand Piccard is currently flying from Madrid to the Moroccan capital of Rabat where he hopes to arrive this evening.
If the journey proves to be successful the team plan to build a new and improved version of the aircraft in preparation for the round the world attempt in 2014.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com