A Fly-By-Night Operation Is Even Harder If Your Plane Is Solar PoweredS

Inventors rolled out this prototype of a solar-powered aircraft today. The Solar Impulse will fly for the first time in December and make a 36-hour flight in 2010. And in 2012, a larger verison will fly around the world.

Solar Impulse is the Swiss bid to make the first Solar-powered flight around the world. The prototype is an ultralight single-seater with the wingspan of an Airbus A380, with four sun-fuelled electric motors. According to Solar Impulse co-founder Andre Borschberg, it's lighter and better performing than comparable gliders.

These photos show the plane being rolled out for the first time ever, and fitted with its vertical stabilizers. Isn't she beautiful?

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The big challenge will come in Spring 2010, when the solar-powered craft's 36-hour flight will include flying all through the night. Images by AFP/Getty. [AFP]