At the end of September, we spoke of the tests carried out on Raphaël with the space suit made by our partners Zvezda in Moscow. Testing a space suit isn’t an easy job and it taught us plenty. First, temperature: Raphaël experienced a simulated flight to 13,000 metres at a temperature of -55° Celsius. Even with a heating system, extremities, including the hands, suffer from the cold. Consequently, we are going to have to improve the heating system so that Raphaël’s extremities do not freeze. The second lesson we learned: it isn’t easy to move in a space suit when it is pressurised. In fact, it is even difficult to bend legs and move feet. This is a problem for a pilot who needs to be precise on the rudder bar. Fortunately, the arms have more range. Consequently, we are going to have to adapt the controls so that plane is piloted with the hands only. With SolarStratos, the true meaning of research and development emerges! Find out more in our latest StratosTime!
A new partner
We are pleased to welcome Gaznat SA as a new partner! The Vevey-based company will supply our Mercedes-Benz B 250 E gaz (loaned by our partner Group Leuba) with natural biogaz. We use this car amongst others to pull the airplane, and thanks to this partnership, Raphaël has become a 100% biogaz driver. SolarStratos’ mobility is CO2 neutral but on top of this, Gaznat tops Raphaël’s consumption in Biogaz and reinjects it into the network. We wish to thank Gaznat and all our partners for their trust and support.
An operational and welcoming base
Raphaël and his team have used the last weeks of summer to improve the welcome area for VIPs, partners and journalists at the SolarStratos operational base. The South-East corner of the hangar is fully dedicated to the well-being of our guests: a “home-made” bar and a lounge, under a beautiful aluminium panel with the logos of all the partners that enable SolarStratos to exist!
This autumn, the Romandy Trade Fairs will publicise our eco-adventure. For example, we are preparing our exhibit at the Broyard Fair with our partner Soleol, from 17 to 26 November. Come to see for yourself!
A bientôt !
Le team SolarStratos
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.
Copyright images Gordon Bennett 2017 © Yves Erismann