Two days ago, the Swiss engineering firm SolarStratos publicly unveiled their revolutionary new solar-powered plane that aims to reach the Earth’s Stratosphere. The plane, said to have the environmental footprint of an electric car, follows on the footsteps of the first solar-powered plane that recently completed its 16-month long journey around the globe last summer.
Solar-Powered Plane by SolarStratos
The SolarStratos plane seats two and reaches an altitude of 25,000 meters. In order to meet weight restrictions, the plane won’t be pressurized. Instead, the two pilots will wear spacesuits that are also powered by solar energy, meaning that the men will be attached to the plane during its flight (no last minute escapes!) The plane’s solar system will power a 32kW engine and charge the 20kW battery that should supposedly allow the plane to stay airborne for 24 hours. However, their first journey to the stars that is expected to take place sometime in 2018, will last just over 5 hours long with 2 hours allocated for reaching the stars, 15 minutes to enjoy the view, and 3 hours to travel back home.
The plane’s pilot, Raphael Domjan, is the same adventure-seeker to create and circumnavigate the world by his solar-powered boat PlanetSolar (Floridian Capt. Quillen’s #inspiration perhaps?).
The bright minds of the SolarStratos team envisions the project as “open[ing] the door to the possibility of electric and solar commercial aviation, close to space.” Wow!