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On our digital way

On our digital way

Digital communication

Raphaël Domjan has always said: “SolarStratos is a communication tool that makes it possible to highlight the potential of solar energy, aviation and the mobility of tomorrow.” With this in mind, and in view of the ongoing development of the project, an increased social media presence is essential.

To this end, SolarStratos is implementing a new approach focused primarily on digitalisation. The implementation of a new strategy, created in collaboration with the company, Up To You, will increase SolarStratos’ presence across digital platforms with the objective of boosting its message and ultimately, increasing its visibility and that of its partners. The aim is to develop a fun and dynamic audience that can identify with energy transition and the solar challenge.

The emphasis on digital communication further strengthens the institutional communications already in place.

Come and find us on:
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube

 

New website

On the 3rd of May, SolarStratos will launch its new website created in collaboration with new partner, communications agency Diabolo Design. The new look site will be more intuitive and adapted to current needs. It will also allow for easier navigation. There will be competitions, and the chance to fly virtually with SolarStratos, plus information on the team and all the latest news on the eco-adventure.

 

Film preview

Following the relaxation of pandemic health measures in Switzerland, SolarStratos was able to publicly air a preview of the documentary about the project at the new Explorit centre located at the heart of the Y-Parc in Yverdon-les-Bains.

This was an opportunity for guests to discover the area within the centre dedicated to SolarStratos and the PlanetSolar Foundation, and to watch the 52-minute documentary called ‘The Birth of a Dream’ that tells the story of the SolarStratos Mission from the inside out. The film is directed by Stéphane Chopard and produced by the Gédéon team.

Flying electric!

As part of a programme about innovation in Europe by France Télévisions, a TV crew recently shadowed Raphaël Domjan during his preparations and training. The two-day shoot coincided with our pilot introducing an airline pilot to electric aviation and executing a successful parachute training jump.

The flight took an educational turn as Raphaël introduced Patrick Senn, an experienced airline pilot, to the possibilities of electric aviation. It was a wonderful flight and a great opportunity for an exchange of ideas between two pilots and friends.

For the parachute jump, Raphaël was accompanied by Géraldine Fasnacht, a wingsuit pilot in her own right and the SolarStratos in-flight safety manager. The two enjoyed an incredible tandem jump from a Heli-Lausanne helicopter with the city of Lausanne and Lake Geneva as a backdrop.

The fuselage comes home

Having passed the load test, the upgraded fuselage is back in Payerne and the team is busy reassembling the plane and preparing it for the first round of test flights scheduled for April.

To begin with, SolarStratos will undergo low- and then high-speed taxi tests with the solar panels connected, before taking off armed with a new permit to fly issued by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

An even bigger and better welcome!

During the winter, the SolarStratos team spent time improving the interior of the Payerne hanger to make the base even more welcoming to visitors.

The team has increased the visibility of partners and sponsors who support the eco-adventure on a daily basis by making their branding much more prominent and outside, they have installed electric vehicle charging terminals courtesy of official supplier, Green Motion.

Thank you so much Green Motion for your unwavering support!

Mission Control Center

A Mission Control Centre was planned from the very beginning of the SolarStratos eco-adventure and against the backdrop of last year’s successful flights and in view of the forthcoming resumption of regular flights, the time has come to launch it.

Positioned at the centre of operations at the Payerne base, the Mission Control Centre will allow the flight management and technical teams to follow the SolarStratos flights in real time.

The Mission Control Centre is portable and is fully equipped for operational flight management, with two 65” screens and a virtual cockpit.

Voiture aux couleurs de SolarStratos

Thanks to our official supplier, the Leuba Group, Raphaël Domjan is driving a new Mercedes EQA 250 (rechargeable electric / plug-in), branded SolarStratos!

A huge thank you to the management of Leuba Group for your unconditional support!

The fuselage passed with flying colours

In a welcome step forward for the technical team and their ongoing preparations towards getting SolarStratos airborne again, the recently modified fuselage was successfully load tested this month as part of the process of recertifying the aircraft for a take-off weight of 650 kg fully loaded.

Flight planning

Getting SolarStratos’ pilot and mastermind back behind the controls of the aircraft and working towards solo flights is a priority for the group and to this end, the technical team, Miguel A. Iturmendi (test pilot) and Thomas Sandmann (aeronautical engineer), have been working with the Federal Office of Civil Aviation on a detailed plan for test flights in 2021.

SolarStratos is broadcast from Paris to China

Our eco-explorer, Raphaël Domjan, travelled to Paris this month to visit Chinese broadcaster, CGTN (formerly CCTV-9 and CCTV-News) for a discussion on aviation of the future and to present the SolarStratos eco adventure. This was a fantastic opportunity for our Solar plane to travel virtually!

Towards a brighter future

The French expression ‘On va vers le beau’ translates loosely in English as ‘Towards a brighter future’ and it is perfectly suited to this time of the year when spring is on the horizon! But that’s not all, the maxim is also the name of a programme broadcast on RTS La 1ère, hosted by Jonas Schneiter, that is dedicated to ground-breaking projects emerging from the French-speaking part of Switzerland.

The host invited Raphaël Domjan to present the SolarStratos mission and so it was only natural that they prepared for the show by flying an electric plane! Broadcast is scheduled for March.

Don’t miss out

Fully charged and ready for action

SolarStratos kicked off 2021 with renewed energy! Despite the pandemic and current health measures, the entire team was able to meet via video conference to review the achievements of 2020 and to prepare and plan for the coming months. Top of the agenda was the resumption of test flights in the spring and the ongoing training for Raphaël Domjan, our pilot and man behind the project.

A more efficient aircraft

Our solar aircraft is currently with our partner, ElektraSolar, in Germany, where it is undergoing some improvements ahead of the next round of test flights. By enhancing the aerodynamics and increasing battery life, it should be possible to reduce the total weight of the aircraft while ensuring maximum safety. Quite a challenge for our technical team!

New electrical circuit

SolarStratos will be equipped with an upgraded electrical system and new batteries. These modifications will allow more power from the batteries and will improve their heat management.

In addition, a new display providing more details to the pilot on the general conditions of the electrical system, will be installed in the cockpit.

Come and find us at EXPLORiT

Il y a quelques semaines, nous vous annoncions l’incroyable opportunité pour la Fondation PlanetSolar et l’aventure SolarStratos de rejoindre EXPLORiT et d’y installer un stand permanent. C’est chose faite.

Dès le mois d’avril, les visiteurs auront la possibilité de retrouver l’histoire du premier tour du monde en bateau solaire, les projets et éco-aventures réalisés par Raphaël Domjan et son équipe, ainsi que le simulateur de vol avec lequel notre éco-explorateur s’est entraîné pour préparer les premiers vols à bord de SolarStratos.

Le stand abritera également la Fondation Race for Water, qui a repris le bateau PlanetSolar.

Lien vers EXPLORiT : https://explorit.ch/fr/

 

Ground vibration test

The long awaited ‘Ground Vibration Test’ was carried out in Payerne earlier this month much to the delight of the technical team. It was managed by a German expert and enabled the team to collect a maximum of data relating to the aircraft’s potential, particularly during flights at high altitude.

Preparing for next season

The winter break coincides with some scheduled maintenance and development work ahead of next season, so SolarStratos will travel to our partner, ElektroSolar, in Germany, where the batteries and management system will be replaced, along with a few other things.

New official partner: Active Solar joins our eco adventure

We are delighted to announce a new partnership with Active Solar (Active Niche Funds SA), the leading investment fund specialising in the global solar energy sector. Launched in 2008, the Lausanne-based company is an investment fund open to the public, with daily liquidity. It was the first to specialise in the solar sector.

The arrival of Active Solar represents a significant opportunity, not only for the success of the SolarStratos mission, but also for the promotion of the economic potential of solar energy.

Raphaël Domjan and the SolarStratos team are thrilled with this partnership and extend their thanks to the leaders of Active Solar for their trust. The SolarStratos team also extends its gratitude to the rest of its partners for their continued support. They are delighted to continue this eco adventure with them!

Happy New Year celebrations!

Raphaël Domjan and the SolarStratos team members wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2021!

In these troubled times, we would like to thank you for your loyalty. 2020 has been a complicated year and we are sincerely grateful for your continued support. Fortunately, together, we have succeeded in setting two world records which have allowed us to convey our optimistic message about a world that is more respectful of the climate and the environment.

We look forward to seeing you again next spring, take good care of yourselves and à bientôt!

StratoTime

As a thank you, we offer you a retrospective of our 2020 activities.

 

Night flight for Raphael

Winter time, shorter days, longer nights, all of this could be a bit of a morale killer. None of this for Raphaël Domjan. The opportunity for him to do night training flights and brave the darkness, with his first flight from Geneva Airport, one of our valued partners.

Second life

In our previous newsletter, we were pleased to announce our presence at EXPLORiT, a concept dedicated to children aged 0 to 12 and their parents who want to discover the world of science and technology, which will open during the winter of 2020/2021. We are materialising our entry with the installation of the PlanetSolar simulator, which is back in Yverdon-les-Bains, after having completed the first solar-powered world tour. Thanks to it, we will be able to make young and old dream. We are already looking forward to this new eco-adventure with our friends from EXPLORiT.

EXPLORiT Website

 

Two new partners

We are pleased to announce the arrival of two new partners. The first is the Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (ONERA). It is the main French research centre in the aeronautics, space and defence sector.

The second, Segula Technologies, is a French group active in 30 countries. A world leader in engineering, it places innovation at the heart of its strategy and carries out projects ranging from studies to industrialisation and production in fields such as automotive and aeronautics.

We welcome them and thank them for their confidence. Raphaël Domjan and the entire SolarStratos team would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners who have supported us throughout our eco-exploration, especially in these difficult and uncertain times. Thank you all for being at our side.

SolarStratos to the edge of space…

While test flights and world premieres are already history, the team has been busy on a number of different fronts. One of the more prominent ongoing projects is a documentary called “To the edge of space”, directed by Stéphane Chopard that chronicles the SolarStratos project since its inception. Co-produced by RSC Film Productions and Gedeon Programs, the first instalment will be delivered to Planète+ and RTS at the end of the year for broadcast in 2021.

“The objective of the documentary is to present this extraordinary human adventure against its backdrop of technology and innovation,” explained Stéphane Chopard. “The script writing and editing are currently underway in Paris. The story starts from Raphaël Domjan’s dream and depicts the different stages of the adventure, its challenges, successes and doubts. By telling the story, the documentary seeks to demonstrate that technology available today can allow for a dream of a better world.”

…to the road, in an electric car!

“A CONTRESENS – Voiture électrique, la grande intoxication ?”

This was the tantalising title of an evening hosted by Raphaël Domjan and the PlanetSolar Foundation at the beginning of October at the Arcades cinema in Neuchâtel.

The meeting was scheduled to coincide with the documentary of the same name, directed by Jérôme Piguet, following a lengthy investigation by pioneer, Marc Müller, who has done multiple world tours in an electric car and is a specialist in renewable energies for the Federal Office of Energy. In his documentary, alongside his team from Nous Production, he counters the lies told about the electric car.

After the documentary was aired, the debate was heated. Raphaël Domjan, Marc Müller and Jonas Schneiter exchanged their points of view on the development of the electric car and the audience was able to shape its own opinion on electric mobility and its future. It was a constructive and enriching evening and our thanks go to those that joined us. The documentary can be viewed on Swisscom TV.

SolarStratos at EXPLORiT

Just a stone’s throw from the SolarStratos headquarters at the heart of the Y-Parc technology centre, ‘Kindercity’ is due to open under the EXPLORiT banner. Kindercity is a concept dedicated to children from 0 to 12-years-old and parents wishing to discover the world of science and technology. It is scheduled to open this Autumn 2020.

PlanetSolar Foundation and SolarStratos will be making the most of this incredible opportunity to set up their own area where they will be able to share world premieres achieved on water and in the air! It will also be an opportunity to highlight the potential of renewable energies as demonstrated by Raphaël Domjan and his projects in Switzerland and abroad.

The SolarStratos team wishes Explorit every success and looks forward to the opening!

Link to EXPLORiT: https://explorit.ch/fr/yverdon

A look back at an incredible summer

Raphaël and the SolarStratos team take a look back at an extraordinary period that will be remembered for a long time to come!

No sooner had the SolarStratos team welcomed test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi to the Payerne base in early July, than the aircraft was in the air for its first round of test flights! The team held its breath as the plane took off, we were confident, but nonetheless, it is always a nerve-wracking moment. Everything had been prepared for the flights to go as planned, and they did!

Next came the first tandem flight with Raphaël Domjan onboard the experimental solar plane, and before we knew it, the big day was upon us – our two world premieres: the first jump from an electric plane and the first solar free fall. An extraordinary moment! The team was focused and confident as SolarStratos took to the sky, the friends, family and partners gathered at the Payerne base for the event, were tense as they waited for the jump. When Raphaël’s parachute opened, the collective sense of relief was palpable and as Raphaël and the plane touched down safely, the applause was deafening. It was a very intense moment, but we did it and SolarStratos will go down in the history books.

After just a moment to enjoy this dual achievement, the technical team got back to work to prepare for Raphaël to swap with Miguel and take control of the plane while the test pilot would sit in the back seat and act as an instructor.

All in all, it has been an exceptional summer. As a group, we have achieved everything that we planned and in the most glorious manner! Miguel A. Iturmendi has gone home to the United States and will return next year for another round of flights and new challenges.

 

 

Clippings

The two world premieres were a huge global success in terms of image. We were hoping for good exposure, but we never imagined such a reaction! Here are two numbers that make us proud and demonstrate the interest the world has in the development of this type of experimental project.

  • 140+ TV stations picked up our two world premieres and broadcast them around the globe
  • 158,800 likes on the BBC News Instagram page that has 16 million subscribers

Partners’ evening

As a thank you to our partners for being present at our side and for having faithfully supported us during this extremely difficult period of COVID-19, we organised a gathering at the base in Payerne. A good time was had by all and we did a performance review and looked at upcoming deadlines.

First raid in an electric plane

100 years after the Aéropostale pioneers set up their French airmail company, the Raid Elektropostal was launched! The event is organised with several stages that take the pilots from Lausanne to Aix-en-Provence via Toulouse and Marseille.

PlanetSolar Foundation is a partner of this eco-adventure that promotes respect for the environment, and the Foundation chairman – our very own founder and pilot of SolarStratos, Raphaël Domjan – flew several stages for the Raid, aboard a Pipistrel Velis type aircraft, the first EASA certified electric aircraft.

A perfect tribute to the pioneers of Aéropostale!

First tandem flight onboard SolarStratos

This month we are celebrating two world premieres AND achieving our first tandem flight with Raphaël Domjan onboard with test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi. The pair flew for 48 minutes with Raphaël sitting behind Miguel, watched closely by our partners, Club Members and the media!

This was a conclusive experience and decisive in the pursuit of scheduled test flights and upcoming world premieres.

World premieres: first jump from an electric aircraft and first solar free fall

SolarStratos has set its first world premieres! Watched by a large group of media and guests, Miguel A. Iturmendi flew Raphaël Domjan to an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,520 metres) from which the eco explorer performed the first parachute jump from an electric plane and the first solar free fall in history.

After just a few minutes suspended beneath the parachute, Raphaël landed at Payerne Aeropole followed 20 minutes later by the solar plane which then returned to the SolarStratos base.

This flight and these successes are of central importance in the history of the SolarStratos project. “The success of this first jump from an electric plane and this first solar free fall are the result of tremendous work by the whole team and our technical and scientific partners. This is an important step in the development of more environmentally friendly aviation”, said Raphaël Domjan after landing.

Thirty flights achieved

SolarStratos has notched up over 30 test flights, including almost 20 since flights resumed in July. The average flight time is around 30 minutes, while the longest was 51. The flights to date have been carried out by our test pilot accompanied by Raphaël Domjan at an average of 5,000 feet (1,500 metres).

 

Raphaël Domjan at the controls of the plane

After flying as a passenger, Raphaël Domjan took control of the plane and flew his first training flights under the test pilot’s instruction. Objective no. 1 is to take control of the plane and to become familiar with the cockpit.

First of the test flights

On 23 July, at dawn, SolarStratos took to the skies above Payerne once again for the first of many test flights – such great news for the whole team and its supporters! July was a busy month of preparations leading up to this moment: at the beginning of the month, test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi, ran some low and medium speed tests on the tarmac at the base in Payerne. These tests were conclusive, so the technical team made various adjustments to prepare the aircraft for its first flight in 2020.

In parallel, the Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued the permit to fly and so, on Thursday 23 July, SolarStratos rolled out of the shed and took off for a low altitude flight lasting 20 minutes! Miguel A. Iturmendi, one of the team’s test pilots, was at the controls and relished the opportunity to familiarise himself with the solar prototype. On landing, he was very happy with the first experience: “I got some good feedback. SolarStratos feels like a big and very good glider. The aircraft’s climbing performance is good, better than I imagined. And you have to be vigilant when landing as the plane needs a long landing distance.”

This first flight and the upcoming test flights are designed to settle technical details in order to be able to gently increase the altitude and duration of the flights.

StratosTime

 

Here are the details of the maiden flight from the point of view of the technical team:

Thursday 23 July 2020: it is still dark at the Payerne airport. Raphaël Domjan, Roland Loos, test pilot Miguel A. Iturmendi and the entire technical team meet at the SolarStratos base.

0515: technical briefing and reminder of the planned flight manoeuvres
0530: radio and weather checks with the control tower and the chief flight officer
0540: review of synchronisation procedures, turn on measuring instruments (in particular the GPS) and sensors (flight recorder)
0545: pre-flight checks and inspection of the plane
0550: SolarStratos leaves the hangar
0600: engine system check
0630: radio check with the control tower, gate is opened
0645: taxi to runway for take off
0700: take off and first flight lasting 20 minutes
0720: soft landing and return to the base

This maiden flight was a moment of celebration for the technical team who were watching everything from the airport terrace and a happy moment for Raphaël who exclaimed: “We are back in the air! Thanks everyone! It’s awesome!”

Next came a debrief for the test pilot and the technical team, followed by a well-deserved coffee and croissant!

Welcome to our new partner

SEGULA Technologies is a French engineering group that leads projects in many different fields, including aeronautics. They are joining SolarStratos as partner and the team welcomes them onboard and thanks them for their support!

Thank you!

The fact that we are able to fly again is thanks to your unconditional support and we are delighted to be able to share these exceptional moments of our eco exploration with you. Thank you all for being at our side and for your continued support. We look forward to continuing this SolarStratos Mission together and are excited to be at the very beginning of a magnificent adventure.

We wish you a wonderful summer and look forward to seeing you again soon!
Raphaël Domjan and Roland Loos