Solar Impulse 2, a solar-powered aircraft, has successfully completed its journey around the world to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy sources. But the developers intend to continue the research and the experience only motivates the specialists to make the technology of producing and using solar energy perfect.
Swiss pilot Raphël Domjan wants to create a commercial version of SolarStratos, driven by solar panels, which will be able to make flights in the stratosphere at an altitude of 24 km above sea level, with the pilot and two passengers on board. Moreover, the cost of this extraordinary journey “to the stars” should not exceed the use of hot air balloons.
Achieving this goal is due for 2021, but in the meantime, an 8.5-meter prototype powered by the 20 kWh lithium-ion battery and a 32 kW electric motor was created. Its charging is carried out due to the photo-electric modules, which cover the area of 22 square meters on the aircraft wings. The aircraft weighs 450 kg, has a length of 8.5 m and a wingspan of 24.9 meters. Demonstration of SolarStratos will be held on December 7 this year.
The first test flight of the two-seat SolarStratos, built by PC-Aero, must take place at the end of this year. In 2017, it is expected to rise above 9,420 meters, previously reached by another solar airplane, Solar Impulse 2. In 2018, the flight will take place on the planned altitude.