What an incredible adventure! Beads of perspiration gathered on our brows and a cold sweat ran down our backs, but after several weeks of hard work, our labour finally paid off! We got there! SolarStratos flies!
On Friday, the 5th of May 2017, our test pilot Damian Hischier took command of the aircraft. The taxiing tests on the tarmac and the runway were conclusive. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation issued our ‘permit to fly’. We were ready. All that remained was for SolarStratos to take off. No small feat for a prototype!
Imagine for just a moment the emotion when Damian lined up ready for take-off. The whole team was willing it to go well. The plane was lined up, there was no wind. Damian engaged the full power of the electric motors and the plane started to move forward. It gathered speed, faster and faster, (as did our heartrates!) and then all of a sudden, the wheels left the ground. The ultimate adrenalin rush was swiftly followed by a fleeting moment of disbelief before we all exploded with joy!
“We did it!” exclaimed Raphael, feeling the same sensations as seven years ago when PlanetSolar was launched in north Germany. At these moments, the emotions eclipse any of the tough times. Pride and joy merge with memories of all the sacrifices that led to this historic moment on the SolarStratos journey.
With this step completed, we can look forward to the next adventures with peace of mind. Of course, the road to flying at very high altitude is long, but we are confident of getting there. The intention is to get there step by step with confidence.
Our current objective is for Raphael and his co-pilot, Thierry Plojoux, to master SolarStratos so that we can demonstrate the aircraft’s flight capabilities at a major event in Quebec in June.
We will tell you more about this soon, but in the meantime, stay up to date on our progress via our social media networks or through our monthly newsletter. And don’t forget this eco-adventure belongs to you too! Don’t hesitate to sign up to our Club if you haven’t already, and spread the word! Together we will reach the edge of Space powered by solar-energy.
Thank you for your support and see you in a month! We wish you a good start to Spring.
Raphael and the SolarStratos team
We are almost there!
After many long months of hard work and intense round trips between Hurlach in Germany – where SolarStratos was built – the CSEM in Neuchatel and Payerne, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The aircraft will soon be ready to deploy its solar-powered wings!
We are just weeks away from the first round of test flights, which we hope will take place in March.
Before handing SolarStratos over to test pilot, Klaus Plasa, however, there is still plenty to do. The final photovoltaic components need to be installed on the wings and the stabilisers at the rear of the aircraft, close to the rudder. Once this phase is complete, the wings will be transported from Neuchatel to Payerne to be attached to the fuselage.
It is a bit like LEGO, but with zero margin for error. The slightest damage, particularly to the carbon fibre structure, could have serious consequences on the continuation of the mission. Months would be lost trying to repair what has taken a long time to create. Concentration and precision are crucial if we want to see SolarStratos fly powered by the sun.
Dear friends, if the ground tests are conclusive and if we obtain the final authorisations from the Federal Office of Civil Aviation, and if the weather permits, then SolarStratos will take a major new step forward. We hope to provide you with beautiful images of this historic moment in next month’s newsletter. Cross your fingers for us!
Stay up to date with our news on social media and if you would like to participate more tangibly in our mission to fly on the edge of Space, then we invite you to join our Club.
See you soon!
Raphael and the SolarStratos Team
Payerne, Switzerland, 7 December 2016 – Raphael Domjan’s stratospheric solar plane was unveiled this morning in Payerne, Switzerland, to 300 guests, including ambassadors, partners, government representatives and the world’s media.
The unique 8.5-metre-long aircraft has a wingspan of 24.8 metres, weighs 450 kilogrammes and is covered with 22m2 of solar panels. It will be the first manned solar-powered aeroplane to penetrate the stratosphere.
“This is a great day for the SolarStratos team,” said Raphael Domjan, creator of PlanetSolar, the first solar-powered boat to do a circumnavigation in 2012 and the initiator and pilot of the SolarStratos project.
“Our goal is to demonstrate that current technology offers us the possibility to achieve above and beyond what fossil fuels offer. Electric and solar vehicles are amongst the major challenges of the 21st century. Our aircraft can fly at an altitude of 25,000 metres and this opens the door to the possibility of electric and solar commercial aviation, close to space.”
Reaching the stratosphere over the past century has required large quantities of energy or helium. Today, the SolarStratos aircraft offers clean solar and electric aviation for the equivalent environmental footprint of an electric car.
“We are extremely pleased with the positive feedback and encouragement that we have received,” said Roland Loos, CEO of SolarXplorers S.A., the organisation in charge of the development and future applications of this endeavour. “Our project brings hope and makes both children and adults dream. It also opens the door to new scientific knowledge – at an affordable price, exploration and the peaceful use of our stratosphere.”
The SolarStratos team is in the final stretch ahead of the official presentation of its solar aircraft to the world. November has arrived, and this is the month when the Roll Out will take place. The event will take place on December 7, in the SolarStratos base on the Payerne airfield. By then the aircraft must be ready and the base built and decorated in order to welcome all guests and media.
The construction of the base began on September 29 by installing large concrete blocs as ballast. Then all just happened at unbelievable speed in less than a month and now the building that will host the first two-seater solar airplane in the world is well out of the ground! It remains only to be decorated before the aircraft is delivered.
Concerning the solar bird, its construction is also nearing completion. It is adorned with a beautiful white paint, which aims to ensure protection and optimum lightweightness while having a modern look. The wings are now closed and they have gone through vibration, stress and heat tests. They are currently with our partner CSEM for the installation of the photovoltaic cells. Meanwhile, the fuselage is also being finalized. Electronic tests are successful (for the engineers who read us, imagine that there are nearly 100 A which pass through 24 wires in a carbon tube of only 2 cm in diameter!); it’s time to fill the fuselage with electronics and wiring, engine, batteries, propeller, cockpit instruments, seats … Once everything is finished, the plane will be transported in a trailer to Payerne where the final assembly will be done!
Raphael and his team are on track to achieve the first major step in the writing of the SolarStratos eco-adventure. Soon, the helio-stratospheric aircraft will not only be a synthetic image, but a real airplane! We look forward December 7, and to share this historic moment!
Thank you for your support! See you soon !
Raphael and the SolarStratos team
Raphaël Domjan and the SolarStratos team are bringing their stratospheric project to life with the commencement of construction on their hangar at the Payerne airport Aeropole site in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland. This operational base for SolarStratos will house the first solar stratospheric plane. The Canton of Vaud, the city of Payerne and the Broye region are also on board in this venture and providing support for the implementation of the SolarStratos project at the Aeropole.