After having made the first round-the-world trip powered by solar energy and having demonstrated that it is possible to travel in this autonomous way using renewable energy, it seems to me that it is necessary to go even further and overtake what has been achieved with fossil fuels. It was when we were crossing the Atlantic on board PlanetSolar that the idea of fulfilling the mythical flight of Icarus and approaching space by using solar energy was born.
The idea matured: an international team was formed and today it is our next challenge. It is an ambitious adventure carrying great risks but it will permit us, once again, to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy. This new eco-adventure will be on a solar plane, marketable, modified for this stratospheric flight. We have called this new expedition Mission SolarStratos.
Wouldn’t it be essential to go higher to show the capacity of renewable energy, here on the surface of our planet? Beyond this adventure, our project is to open a door on a commercial electrical or solar aviation on the edge of space, with the aim of achieving unique travel with private passengers or scientists.
Imagine yourself aboard a solar-powered plane flying in total silence at more than 75’000 feet. At this altitude you can contemplate the curvature of the planet and observe the stars during the day.
For a hundred years it was necessary to use large quantities of energy or helium to reach the stratosphere now we are going to open the way for manned solar and electric aviation on the edge of space.
For weight reasons, the vessel will not be pressurised, obliging Raphaël to wear an astronaut’s pressurised suit which will function uniquely with solar energy constituting a world first.
The challenge is technical and human, the mission will last about five hours (two hours to ascend into space, fifteen minutes to stay up with the stars and three hours to descend). Equipped with a space suit, Raphaël will not be able to get out of the plane to avail himself the use of a parachute.
Plane and pilot will be subjected to temperatures of the order -70 degrees.