Initiator and Pilot
The initiator of the project, Raphaël Domjan, aged 42 already has solid experience in the field of organising eco-adventures and in ground-breaking ambitious projects. For example, he has already initiated, supported and achieved the first round the world trip on board of the PlanetSolar. Prior to this, he was already inspired by renewable energy. In particular, he developed the first solar-powered hosting site. Today, Raphaël is an eco-adventurer and a lecturer. Passionate about everything related to aeronautics. Raphaël is a pilot of gliders, planes and helicopters. The mission “SolarStratos” is ambitious and risky but possible that is what Raphaël Domjan, who is driving this eco-adventure, will tell you. He will be the pilot of the plane “SolarStratos” which he will push, together with his team, to its utter limits in order to prove that the renewable energies have incredible capacities and will enable us to preserve our planet.
Pilot and Middle-East Market Manager
Born and educated in Switzerland (Swiss-South African double national) Thierry has a very early passion for traveling to odd places, particularly the African continent where he lived and worked for many years . He made a professional career in international commodities trading and infrastructures projects management before taking back his freedom in 2011. He is now based in Dubai and dedicates his time and energy to traveling and discovering new places, boating, flying and participating to projects closed to his heart such as SolarStratos and in new sustainable technologies by supporting the development of Biomimicry. Thierry passed his PPL pilot licence in 2012 and regularly fly his SLING4 in Southern Africa.
Test pilot and Flight Director
Damian is a certified test pilot and holds an Airline Transport Pilot License with a Category 1 Flight Test Rating. He flew more than 130 different aircraft types ranging from gliders up to airliners including 15 first flights of prototypes. After the graduation at the National Test Pilot School he worked on numerous experimental and certification projects as test pilot and flight test director. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Damian is excited to be a part of the SolarStratos adventure and to explore the new area of Near Space Aviation in which he sees a tremendous potential.
Miguel A. Iturmendi
Test pilot and Aeronautical Engineer
Miguel A. Iturmendi is a native Spaniard, but lives and works in the USA. Miguel holds degrees in Aeronautical Science, Space Studies and Flight Test Engineering, and graduated as a Test Pilot from the National Test Pilot School. He possesses over 10,000 flight hours and 12 PIC type ratings in Jets and Heavy Turbo-Props. Miguel has flown different experimental prototypes including The Airbus Perlan II, Aurora’s Odysseus, The Honda Jet and the Saab 340 MBSAR. Miguel flew with Jim Payne on their world record flight to 65,000 feet in Argentina 2018 in the Perlan II glider. Miguel enjoys flying different aircraft and has flown over 160 different types.
Mission & Technique
CEO, Telecommunications and future business
Roland started his carreer at the Swiss PTT satellite department as satellite project manager. In 2004 he was one of the 3 co-founders of NewSat Communications and was instrumental in the development of the company from a start-up to a well respected satellite communications provider to major oil and gas companies. Since 2006, he has been creating and running wholly owned subsidiaries of NewSat in most major oil-producing countries in Africa . In 2013 he lead the diligence process and very successfull merger of NewSat with ITC global and became the COO and president of the combined ITC global structure and was then responsible for the overall development and operations of ITC global’s world-class network infrastructure. He also oversaw the company’s Swiss based legal entity and traveled extensively to manage the international affiliates around the world. In 2015 he was part of the team that managed the highly successfull sale of ITC global to Panasonic Avionics Corporation (PAC). He now develops new activities around the world and advises young companies in their development. He just joined Solarstratos to support the telecommunications aspects and looks at further business opportunities. Solarstratos ideally combines his passion for exploration and aeronautics with sustainable development that leads to new business opportunities. Roland helds a Masters degree in electrical engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technolgy in Lausanne (EPF – Lausanne).
Developer and designer of the «SolarStratos» plane
Aeronautical engineer with over 35 years of experience, Calin Gologan is certified in many areas (loading weights of the airplane, strength of materials, theory of aircraft structures, aerodynamics, aeroelasticity, flutter, propulsion system etc.). He is the founder and CEO of PC-Aéro GmbH, a company that works on the scope, conception aircraft, certifications and creation of prototypes. Calin Gologan has collaborated with Solar Impulse and calculated static loads for gliders (wings, fuselage, tail, landing gear). Calin Gologan is the creator and designer of the aircraft which will be used for the SolarStratos Mission.
Wingsuit pilot; she is responsible for flight safety
A professional rider, Géraldine Fasnacht is also a wingsuit pilot, a base jumper, a parachutist and a speaker. Today she can count 11 victories in International Freeride competitions of which 3 are “l’X-treme de Verbier”. She has achieved, together with her team, the first wingsuit base-jump in the Antarctic and Les Druz, the spiritual home of mountaineering in the Mont-Blanc massif. Géraldine Fasnacht brings her technical expertise to the SolarStratos team with regard to questions of flight safety.
Mechanic and Hangar Manager
Glider pilot, instructor and expert who is also licensed to fly aircraft, including tow-planes. Worked for La Poste and Swisscom as a car and HGV mechanic for 28 years. He has held an aircraft maintenance licence since May 2010, and looks after a fleet of aircraft at Colombier.
Energy Systems Engineer
Philippe Morey, electrical engineer, has been a researcher at the HEIG-VD Institute of Energy and Electrical Systems since 2009. His extensive work has led him to acquire expertise in the field of solar photovoltaics as well as the storage of electrical energy stemming from renewable sources. In particular, he took part in the PlanetSolar project by modelling the boat’s energy chain using the steering software. He also carried out an evaluation of the solar power of the boat after its trip around the world. Inquisitive by nature, aviation as well clean mobility have always been subjects that arouse Philippe’s interest. His role in this project has been to have a critical global view of the plane’s electrical systems.
Silvia has more than 20 years of experience in the administrative management of international companies and has previously worked in the satellite communications business. She manages our administration and the Yverdon office by adding the necessary humor to the day-to-day management of complex projects.
She is also involved with the non-profit association « fil rouge » as a director and intervenes as a clown in geriatric and psycho-geriatric institutions to embellish the daily lives of their residents with dreams, gentleness and smiles.
Webmaster & telemetry
A chemist by training, Alexis Domjan, 41 years old, is a teacher and Head of an R&D project at the Haute Ecole Arc in Neuchâtel. Since his childhood he has been passionate about science and computers. He has made numerous web sites as a partner of the company Horus which he manages with his older brother Raphaël. Moreover, Horus is one of the first service providers offering a solar website. He participated in the adventure PlanetSolar as webmaster, responsible for the video, GPS tracking of the boat and IT team on the ground. For this new project he has acquired skills in 3D simulation allowing him to create original synthetic images. He is the webmaster and responsible of telemetry for the SolarStratos project.
Anaesthetist; he is responsible for medical matters
Anaesthetist since 2001, Patrick Schoettker has already a great experience in out-of-hospital medicine; he has worked as the physician in charge (SMUR-REGA) in the University Hospital of canton Vaud (CHUV) in Lausanne. Currently, physician responsible for neurosurgical anaesthesia (ENT) and emergency (CHUV), in parallel, he was the doctor for the PlanetSolar round the world flight, and then he was the doctor of a business leader who was alone on a desert island expedition called “Webrobinson”. A sailing enthusiast, he was the on-board doctor of the “Merit-Cup” the Swiss sailing boat of Pierre Fehlmann.
Nivo-meteorologist, Dr. ès-Sciences of the “Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne”, Robert Bolognesi is also a former researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute for the Study of Snow and Avalanches in Davos. Founder and Director of the Office of meteorological risks, he has specialised in the forecast of risks of metrological origins. Router of the Duvoisin-Favre crew, winner of the David Niven Cup competition in 2012, Robert Bologesi will be a precious meteorological advisor to the SolarStratos Mission.
Head of Communication
Bernard Schopfer has 20 years of experience within media, television, sponsorship and event management. After obtaining a diploma in Political Science in the University of Geneva, he worked as a journalist with some of Switzerland’s most important media, including the national television. He also spent three years in the Middle and Far East as a reporter. In 2000 he is employed as Communication Manager of Team Alinghi, the winner of the America’s Cup 2003 and 2007, before founding MaxComm in August 2006.
Swiss press officer
Hardened by his various occupations in emergency situations, notably with numerous years as a trained medic, Michel Gandillon, 43 years of age, also holds a federal license in Human Resources. After having worked in the department of protection and rescue in Lausanne, he is, currently, a press officer responsible for communication. Thanks to many training courses, notably in crisis communication, he is in charge of the Swiss media for the SolarStratos Mission.
Director, cameraman and producer
Gym teacher Stéphane Chopard developed an early interest in images, photography and film. Alongside his teaching career, he combined these two facets of his life by making films about climbing, caving, windsurfing, and skiing – sports that have brought him into close contact with nature. His adventurer’s soul drawn by wide open spaces, he spent several years travelling the world armed with little more than a rucksack and a camera – directing and co-producing documentaries for some of Europe’s leading television channels, including RTS, Canal Plus, France télévision, and ARTE; some of these have won international awards. His favourite subjects are nature, wildlife, the conservation of endangered species, science, and human-interest topics. He sees each new subject as an open door to a new world, just waiting to be explored. Captivated by the SolarStratos project, he has joined the team to film the story of this fascinating technological, scientific and human endeavour.
Guandalina Gennari Curlo
Guendalina has more than 7 years' experience in strategic marketing and communication, having worked previously at the consulting division of Ecole hotelière de Lausanne and then at Saatchi & Saatchi on global communication projects for brands that include GSK's Otrivin and Voltaren, Hanadi Keane and Vangardist, for which in 2015 she managed Switzerland's most awarded campaign (39 international prizes). She is proud to bring her contribution to SolarStratos’ adventure at the frontiers of technological and human performance to prove the huge untapped power of solar energy for aviation.
Guendalina is a graduate from the University of Turin specialized in strategic marketing and has postgraduate diplomas from the London Business School, University of Cambridge, INSEAD and MIT.
Wiktor Korewa was born in 1982 in Lausanne (Switzerland), has both Polish and Swiss nationalities and speaks 5 languages (French, Polish, English, German and Spanish). After having accomplished his studies in Political Science in Lausanne and Toulouse (France), he published two books on Al-Qaeda (geopolitics and counter-terrorism) and he began then his professional career.
Having an interest in geopolitical and environmental issues and an attractiveness for marketing and communication, Wiktor Korewa is a young experienced professional in both private and public sectors (e.g. federal and cantonal administration, SMBs, big size companies, associations). Before joining SolarStratos as a Partnerships Officer, he was in charge of Marketing, Partnerships and Supply at PlanetSolar, the largest solar boat on Earth. Besides his duties within our adventure, he is also involved in many other projects and currently works for the City of Lausanne as a Communication Officer.
Holder of a state diploma of the “Institut Supérieur de Communicaion (INSECOM Paris), Coralie Jugan is an experienced press officer. At the age of 44, she has already assured the coordination of the media during the many expeditions of Jean-Louis Etienne, in particular. Presently responsible for the press agency “action Media”, Coralie Jugan will be responsible for the coordination of the media during the Eco-adventure of SolarStratos.
Photographer and physicist
Ali is a scientist working for the research arm of the Swiss Federal Institute of Metrology (METAS). He qualified as a physicist and obtained a PhD in the physics of low temperatures at Neuchâtel University. He has been a keen photographer for over 30 years and is deeply convinced of the potential of renewable energies. He joined the SolarStratos project to put his skills at the disposal of the entire team.
Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and archeology, Raphaelle is putting the final touches to her Master’s thesis in prehistorical archeology, showing how to communicate this discipline towards the media.
Very much atttracted by the historical dimension of former, present and future endeavours in solar exploration, she works for the SolarPlanet foundation to highlight the patrimony of solar energy pionneers. SolarStratos uses her skills in the history of solar powered vehicles around the world to elaborate visuals and communications on this subject for the mission.
Airline pilot and journalist
Transport engineer (ESTACA) and airline pilot (ENAC), Gérard Feldzer was an Air France captain then director of the Air and Space Museum. Regional councillor (Ile-de-France), president of the tourist committee of the Paris region, vice-president of the ports of Paris since 2010, he has also been president of the Aero Club of France. Reporter with France Info in the program “transportez-moi” and co-producer of the Tele-magazine of the same name on LCP, Gérard Feldzer will put his enormous skills and knowledge at the disposal of SolarStratos.
Michael Lopez-Alegria graduated from the US Naval Academy with a Bachelor degree in System Engineering and obtained a Master’s in Aeronautic Engineering from the post-graduate Naval Academy. He is also a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy University, of the School of Governmental Program for higher ranks in national and international security. After more than three decades of aviation with the American Marines and space experience with NASA in several positions including naval pilot, engineering test pilot and director of programs, this NASA astronaut is a commander of the International Space Station (ISS). Four times he was the pilot of the space shuttle for the missions STS-73, STS-92, STS-113 and has been as well the pilot and commander of the ISS during its positioning. Micheal Lopez-Alegria is trilingual as he speaks Spanish, French and Russian fluently. Moreover, he is President of the Federation of Commercial Space Flights, an association based in Washington, Vice-President of the consultative Committee of Commercial Space Transport of the FAA’S of the Human Exploration and the consultative Council of the Committee of Operations of NASA. Micheal Lopez-Alegria is also a member of the Administration Council of the Association of Space Explorers and a member of the Experimental Test Pilot’s Society and of the Aero-Naval Association.
Flight Operations Consultant
Airline Transport Pilot and Instructor in general aviation since more than 20 years, Philippe has accumulated almost 10'000 flight hours on various aircraft types from Ultra-Light Aircraft up to Boeing B737 and Airbus A320. Currently Captain on an A320 by a major airline, he is also responsible for the flight safety and operations risk management of this airline since more than 15 years.
Beside his practical aeronautical experience, Philippe has a Master in Air Transport Management from City University London and an education in air accident investigation from Cranfield University. He is also graduated as an engineer in mechanic and in safety in Switzerland.
Apart his passion for aeronautical activities, Philippe is inspired by all entrepreneurial challenges and participated to various start up, one of them being the production of an electrical car.
The adventure of SolarStratos, associating Aeronautic and sustainable development could only call him to participate.
Passionate in all things of the air, Yannick Bovier at the age of 13 constructed and flew his first model aeroplanes. Today at the age of 41, he is licensed to fly gliders, private and commercial aircraft. In 2010 he accomplished a round the world flight in an ECO Light Plane to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Swiss Aviation. Now with more than 8,500 hours of flying time, he is a pilot with Crossair, a private company and this will enable him to be one of the aeronautic consultants for the SolarStratos Mission.
In charge of aerial photography
Vincent Costa is an EPFL-SIA architect – and a professional helicopter pilot who has clocked up several thousand hours’ worth of flying time on various types of aircraft. He also works as a flying instructor, and has been Raphaël’s instructor since 2005. Vincent Costa will be in charge of aerial photography for the SolarStratos Mission and for the safety jump training.
Jules Verne's great grand son
«Just like Robur-le-Conquérant of my great-grandfather, Jules Verne, Raphaël Domjan tempts fate with his extreme adventures by water, by air and, perhaps, one day by fire to show the world that nature and its forces can be conquered, without destroying it, polluting it, upsetting it through greed. Far from a submissive ecology and nostalgia for a return to the past which would be better respected by ignoring discoveries, Raphaël Domjan wants to show that the modern ecologist acts, looks for, proves, risks, ventures into the most advanced technologies, not to enrich himself at the expense of others, but to find the best balance between performance and future compliance. Will he be disillusioned as Nemo became by the greed of men? Drunk with power as Robur was because he was not understood? Uncontrollable, as the Gun Club heroes who were grasping for power after their trip to the moon? Or philosophical as Phileas Fogg? I wish him the last solution – as I suppose my ancestor would have absolutely wished him – once he had tried generously to offer the world a vision of science and technology respectful of nature and meaningful for humanity.»
Jean Verne, March 2014.
Moon walker, Apollo 14 mission team member 1930 – 2016
« During my trip to the moon, I could notice the fragility of our world and atmosphere. I am pleased now to be a Godfather of the SolarStratos adventure imagined by Raphael Domjan. Joining the edge of space thanks to the energy our star, the sun, is an extraordinary demonstration of the potential of solar energy and our technology. Good and safe solar flight to the stars. »
Founder and President of PG Latécoère Foundation
«Dear Raphaël, I accept to be the godmother of your new adventure with pleasure. I admire people who are moving forward, who are crossing barriers, making their audacity and courage advance ideas and things in the world. The Pierre Georges Latécoère Foundation will support your project which follows in the wake of the Latécoère adventure. These men, these pioneers, gave us the example; we will thus render them a great homage.»
«It’s an honour and a privilege for me to be supporting SolarStratos, an ambitious and fascinating project. My previous job led me to visit the stratosphere on many occasions, but each time it took the power of a fighter aircraft engine to get me there – nowhere near as majestic a solution as what you’re planning to do. I experienced many unforgettable moments up there. Years later, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to go higher still. And that’s why I’m happy to lend my full support to your courageous initiative, combining as it does modernity and romance, and giving the nay-sayers pause for thought.»
«Since the dawn of time, women and men have outdone themselves in feats of daring and imagination, writing fresh chapters in the history of humankind with courage, determination and great-heartedness – sometimes at the risk of their lives. Raphaël Domjan is just such an individual – one of those rare explorers of the future that fate sometimes gives us the good fortune and the privilege to meet. They enrich our lives and encourage the rest of us to surpass ourselves, too. Raphaël inspires young people so that they in turn can shape their own destinies. Raphaël is showing us the way forward and restoring our belief in the future of humanity.»
Manfred “Dutch” von Ehrenfried
Author of “Stratonauts: Pioneers Venturing into the Stratosphere”
The quest for stratospheric flight is not one to be considered lightly as it is fraught with perils as many have discovered. To attempt it with solar power alone would have been considered folly not too many years ago. But now, there are a few who have captured the sun’s rays with sufficient efficiency that it is now possible to challenge the stratosphere. I will be with the team in spirit and follow your progress with envy.
Astronaut at ESA
What could be more inspiring than reaching the frontier of space using only solar power? At a time when the human race is seeking the most sustainable solutions to ensure the best possible future for subsequent generations, SolarStratos, Raphaël and the team are an outstanding example of how to take up the challenge, combining the dream of space, the promise of a whole new perspective on the planet, and the power of science and technology to achieve feats that would have been unimaginable only a few years ago. To date, mankind has done little more than reach the outer edges of the stratosphere – or simply rush through it in rockets powered by fossil fuels. But now, the stratosphere will be explored using only the power of the sun. This incredible achievement is being made possible through a combination of daring, a winning team, and state-of-the-art technology. And that’s why I’m an enthusiastic supporter of the SolarStratos mission and its first solar stratonaut, set to fulfil the dream of Icarus – and in doing so, fire our collective imagination.
The Mother Nature Network co-founder
« Being one of the Patrons of PlanetSolar, First Round The World Tour With Solar Energy, I decided to give my support to the new eco-expedition of Raphaël Domjan : SolarStratos, To The Edge Of Space.
Getting further with solar energy, reaching the stratosphere with a inhabited solar aircraft, will definitely demonstrate the reliability of solar energy. It will open the doors to a new era in aviation history and show to the world that we have the keys to change it in a sustainable way. Congratulations to Raphaël Domjan and his team for this great endeavour. Keep up the wonderful work and make dreams come true!
Chuck Leavell is one of the most sought after and admired keyboardists of our times. He has recorded and/or toured with The Allman Brothers Band, Eric Clapton, The Black Crowes, George Harrison, David Gilmour, John Mayer and many more artists. He has been the keyboard player for The Rolling Stones for over 30 years and is also a solo artist in his own right. Chuck is also a revered environmentalist and has authored several books on forestry and environmental issues. He is co-founder of The Mother Nature Network (www.mnn.com), which is the most visited independent environmental site in the world. » Visit: www.chuckleavell.com for more information.
Captain, Speaker and Adventurer
For me, aviation has always been a story of passion; you need a lot of passion to move forward in this domain that makes many people dream and that is influenced by many external factors over which you have no control. Some people just take their passion to this next level and dare the unimaginable to take us further and higher.
Congrats and cheers to Rahael Domjan and his team. It is an honor to serve as a patron to SolarStratos. You have my full admiration.
President of Paléo Festival Nyon
« The adventures of explorers make us dream very often, but success never comes without a great passion, a perfect preparation, a well studied risk taking and the support without failure of many people, institutions and companies. I hope that my modest support acts as an additional positive catalyser for Raphael Domjan and his team.»
First solar airplane designer
« These are exciting times; from the humble beginnings in the 1970’s solar powered flight has come a long way. The pioneering spirit and dedication of Raphaël Domjan and team is now raising solar powered flight to a new and important level. I wish Solarstratos every success in this challenge. »