By Jonny Tiernan
Having succeeded in making the first ever solar-powered round-the-world trip in 2012, the team behind PlanetSolar, the largest solar-powered boat in the world, have now set their sights on another solar-powered first — a journey into space.
To further demonstrate the amazing potential of renewable energy, founder Raphaël Domjan and his international team are embarking on Mission SolarStratos. The aim of this so-called eco-adventure is to send an 8.5m long and 24.9m wide solar-powered plane into space and back.
Over the course of two hours, the two-seater plane will ascend to a height of 75,000ft, penetrating the stratosphere and becoming the first even manned solar plane to do so. Designed by Calin Gologan of Elektra-Solar GmbH, the plane is powered by a 20kWh lithium battery and a 32kW engine that propel the four 2.2m propeller blades.
15 minutes in space
After the ascent, the plane will spend 15 minutes in the stratosphere before making the journey back to Earth. The entire round trip is expected to take five hours. The pilot of the plane will wear a spacesuit as the cabin will not be pressurized, and they will have to cope with low pressures and very cold temperatures.
The planned spaceflight will take place in 2018. To date the project has been financed through crowdfunding, and they have a host of partners on board, including Ciel Électricité, Zvezda and Fischer Connectors.
This project will be another shining example of how to push the limits and abilities of solar technology, and will show the incredible potential of solar in action. As founder Raphaël Domjan has stated “It seems to me that it is necessary to go even further and overtake what has been achieved with fossil fuels.”
In time, the aircraft will be used for commercial purposes so that you too could take a journey into space and reach for the stars. As of yet we don’t know how much it will cost to take a flight, but we imagine the experience will be priceless.
Enjoy this video for a taste of what is to come.
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