Raphaël Domjan is a Swiss entrepreneur and eco-explorer. For some time he has been planning and developing visionary solutions to demonstrate that renewable energies are reliable, and this is no exception this time.
After taking his solar boat around the world, Domjan created the SolarStratos plane. An aircraft designed to venture into the stratosphere, powered by nothing but the sun.
It would be the first time in aviation history.
Not a small record. On the other hand, if the SolarStratos project is to triumph it faces enormous challenges. To reach 18.000 meters in a non-pressurized plane (usually a feat for stealth aircraft) the solar plane and its pilot will be subjected to temperatures as low as -70 degrees.
Domjan will also have to wear a pressurized spacesuit for the five-hour flight. It will take two hours to reach the stratosphere, 15 minutes face to face with the stars and then three hours to descend. At that altitude, Domjan will be able to see the curvature of the planet.
"Our goal is to demonstrate that current technology and solar energy offer us the possibility to go beyond what fossil fuels offer "Said Domjan. "We will be able to fly where no internal combustion engine or jet engine can run and allow for extended flight."
How the idea of SolarStratos was born
In its embryonic state, the idea first arose when Domjan was completing his solar circumnavigation aboard his boat from 2010 to 2012.
Some issues on SolarStratos
SolarStratos weighs 450kg and is just over 8 meters long. Its solar cells cover 74 square meters, the wingspan is 24 meters. Energy is stored in a lithium-ion battery. The electric motor generates 43 horsepower at 2200 rpm. Domjan claims the engine is efficient 90 percent.
The maiden voyage is scheduled for 2022.
Will it be possible to go into space with solar energy?
SolarStratos has the ambition to develop into the solar-powered aviation sector, to offer a unique travel experience to private passengers and scientists at the limits of space.
"The biggest challenges are battery charging, temperature and low atmospheric pressure," says Domjan. “All of these elements require specific technical responses. We are entering a totally new environment because this has never been done before. "
Here is a short video of the project