The hot temperatures of the summer months might be moving south, but the mercury continues to soar at the SolarStratos base, particularly for Raphael trussed up in his space suit. We paid Zvezda, our Russian partners in Moscow, a visit this month to test our space suit in a depressurised chamber. Fortunately, Raphael was luckier than poor Captain Haddock who found a mouse at the bottom of his suit (for those who remember the famous Tintin story ‘Destination Moon’)! Other than a few drops of perspiration, Raphael was able to experience the effects that he will feel in the cockpit during his record breaking flight.
SolarStratos welcomes a key team member to the design group this month: Thomas Sandmann is an aeronautical engineer and becomes SolarStratos’ chief engineer for airworthiness and the reference person for the Federal Office of Civil Aviation. His contribution will allow us to reach the stratosphere with maximum security!
In parallel to Thomas’ studies, the technical team initiated its optimisation work on the aircraft this month, including on the tail and the rudders. The aim is to stabilise the aircraft and lighten the carbon structure to be able to fly two up. It is not an easy matter, but it will take a lot to discourage our technicians and engineers!
Beyond its technical aspects, SolarStratos is also an important communication tool for the promotion of renewable energies. To this end, Raphael and the team host events at the Payerne base and participate in others. This month saw the Leuba Group test hybrid cars on the runway in front of the SolarStratos hangar. Sixty people, including Raphael, put the hybrid and electric vehicles through their paces, overlooked by the solar plane. In mid-September, Raphael shared his passion for aviation by jumping from a helicopter with Geraldine Fasnacht during the 61st edition of the Gordon Bennett, the oldest aeronautical competition in the world. What a sight to see the SolarStratos logo emblazoned across his parachute amid the giant gas-powered balloons.
We also had the opportunity to exhibit a model of the solar aircraft at Geneva Airport. From 11-14 September, thousands of passengers saw the mini-SolarStratos, giving awareness of our eco-adventure a huge boost.
A busy month as you can see!
Thank you all for your loyalty. Until next month and our next newsletter!
The SolarStratos team.
Images of Gordon Bennett 2017 are copyright © Yves Erismann