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Solar Impulse's CEO and pilot Andre Borschberg took off from Switzerland in the solar-powered HB-SIA prototype for its first night flight on Wednesday. ((Denis Balibouse/Keystone/Pool/Associated Press))

 The Swiss team behind an experimental solar-powered plane says it has remained aloft for a record 24 hours.

Engineers in the Solar Impulse control room and pilot Andre Borschberg cheered loudly in Switzerland on Thursday as the plane passed the historic milestone shortly before 7 a.m. local time.

The prototype plane is studded with 12,000 solar cells that stored enough energy during the day to last through the night.

The team's ultimate goal is to fly an improved version of the aircraft around the world in five stages in 2013.