Test flights in sight
First things first though! Happy New Year from the whole team and welcome to our first newsletter of the new decade!
This year is extremely important for SolarStratos and promises to be action packed. The test flights will resume, Raphael will fly the solar plane himself for the first time, we’ll be doing two-person flights, we will attempt the first flights at 10,000 m for as solar and electric airplane and many more surprises.
Lots going on!
Our team is growing
An experimental eco-exploration such as SolarStratos is constantly evolving, constantly adapting to technological developments and therefore, constantly looking to benefit from new knowledge and skills. We have an incredible and passionate team in place making every effort to get our solar plane to the stratosphere, and it is growing! We recently hired Miguel A. Iturmendi as the second test pilot and aeronautical engineer and have now added Marc-André Pointet to the team in the role of engineer. He joins us from the Haute Ecole of Engineering and Management from the Canton of Vaud.
We have also strengthened our ‘events and partners’ department with the arrival of Floriane Pochon, who has come on board as manager.
We wish them a warm welcome and a lot of fun at the heart of our great adventure.
Reliability of the new wings
During the winter, we focussed on stress testing the wings. To do that, we first built different samples of longerons (the longitudinal structural component of an aircraft’s fuselage), then we loaded them up until they broke in order to understand what resistance the different materials and manufacturing techniques would allow. Once this was established, we were able to select the best carbon fibre and the best manufacturing technique to achieve the strongest, stiffest and lightest wings possible.
Once the longeron experiments were complete, we built a full test wing, slightly shorter than the flight wing and loaded that up with over a ton of sandbags and water until it broke.
We at last had the information that we needed to create the final wings. Our technical team now knows that the SolarStratos wings have a margin of safety that is slightly higher than the norm, which in turn means that, if necessary, they can slightly increase the take-off weight.
The new SolarStratos wings will be equipped with more resistant photovoltaic cells embedded in the wings by our scientific partners at the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology. Embedding the cells will make them more reliable and solid.
The base will stay in Payerne
In 2016, the city of Payerne and the Broye Regional Community allowed us to build our base on the Aeropole site for three years. We have just received the exciting news that this permission has been extended until the end of our eco-exploration. This means we can continue our adventure so thank you to the local, regional and confederate authorities for the trust placed in us, and their support!