To the edge of space and beyond: SolarStratos unveiled

The first solar-powered plane set to reach the stratosphere made its official debut yesterday.

SolarStratos will improve our knowledge and develop technologies to enable our world to be more environmentally friendly.

SolarStratos was unveiled yesterday in Payerne, in the canton of Vaud, to 300 guests, including ambassadors, partners, government representatives and international media. The unique 8.5-meter-long aircraft has a wingspan of 24.8 meters, weighs 450 kilograms and is covered with 22 m2 of latest-generation solar cells developed by CSEM. A symbol of pioneering spirit, vision, and innovation, it will be the first manned solar-powered aircraft to penetrate the stratosphere.

Raphaël Domjan, the initiator and pilot of SolarStratos, wants to prove the huge potential of renewable energies, and their ability to change and preserve our planet. “Our goal is to demonstrate that current technology offers us the possibility to achieve above and beyond what fossil fuels offer. Our aircraft can fly at an altitude of 25,000 meters and this opens the door to the possibility of electric and solar commercial aviation, close to space”, he said in a statement.

The solar aircraft is scheduled to begin test flights in February 2017, while the first stratospheric flights should take place in 2018. For weight-saving reasons, the plane will not be pressurized, and Domjan will wear a solar-powered spacesuit – another world first.

SolarStratos’ operational base is hosted at Aeropole Competence Center, in the heart of Western Switzerland. Thanks to the presence of highly specialized firms and a supportive network of public authorities, Aeropole Competence Center is the ideal location for companies active in aviation, aerospace and autonomous solutions wishing to expand or develop in Europe.

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