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1st Solar-powered Plane to Circle Earth in 2011

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The world's first solar plane is expected to complete the round-the-world trip in 2011, a representative of one of the sponsors of the project said on Thursday.

Jean Cai, vice president of Deutsche Bank (China) Co., Ltd., a main partner of the solar plane project, told Xinhua that the plane, powered solely by solar energy without polluting emissions, will fly around the world in 30 days in 2011 and land once on each continent.

A model of the Solar Impulse plane is exhibited in Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, where the Deutschland-Chinesische Promenade program, part of a Sino-German friendly exchange event, is being staged, Cai said.

The prototype is to be unveiled to media on June 26 at Dubendorf airfield next to Zurich, Switzerland, added Cai.

The plane, covered in almost 12,000 photovoltaic cells, has a wingspan of 63.4 meters, or roughly that of Airbus A340, and only weighs 1,600 kg, equivalent to that of a motor car. It is reported to be able to reach a flying speed of 70 km per hour.

"The solar plane project is aimed at promoting sustainable energy in the world and the potential and future of clean energy and solar energy," said Cai.

The ongoing Deutschland-Chinesische Promenade program is part of the Germany and China Moving Ahead Together, an event jointly launched by Germany and China in 2007 under the theme of "sustainable urbanization".

The whole event is scheduled to conclude during the Shanghai World Expo next year.

(Xinhua News Agency June 19, 2009)

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