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Solar Impulse flight on tap

A Swiss team hoping to one day circle the globe in a solar-powered plane is planning the aircraft's next major milestone--to take off and land from two busy airports.

A Swiss team hoping to one day circle the globe in a solar-powered plane intends to take the craft out for a spin around Switzerland as soon as weather conditions become "favorable."

In a blog post, Solar Impulse said its plane is scheduled to lift off from an airport in Payerne, Switzerland, and then head for Geneva. After a stopover, the plane will pass over the Lake of Geneva, the regions of Fribourg, Bern, and Aarau and then land at the Zurich airport.

Earlier this year, the plane, known as HB-SIA, registered a couple of successful test flights--including an endurance test requiring it to remain aloft for 24 hours. The ultimate goal is to circumnavigate the globe in 2013, with five stops along the route. The current four-engine plane is powered by solar cells, rechargeable lithium batteries, and electric motors attached to the wings and body. The craft has the wingspan of a Boeing commercial passenger jet and can climb to a height of 28,000 feet at maximum speeds of over 75 mph.

Read more of "Solar plane ready for biggest test yet" at