This airplane has already shown itself when it flew around the globe. However, this goal is even more ambitious. It will have to fly two times higher than the highest commercial jetliner using only sun’s energy. The Mission SolarStratos aims to achieve this goal in the next two years.
The plane is designed by Calin Gologan of Elektra-Solar GmbH and is also a technical partner on the project. It is approximately 30 feet long (8,5 m) and has a wingspan of about 81 feet ( 24.8 m). The cabin is not pressurized, due to weight saving. Therefore, the pilots will have to wear pressurized suits (again powered by solar energy only).
The Mission SolarStratos is equipped with one electric motor, producing up to 32 kW, that will power four 7.2 feet (2.2 m) blades at 2200 rpm, with an efficiency of 90%.
In order to harvest energy, the electric solar airplane uses 236.8 square foot (22 m²) of solar cells. Each cell reaches the 34% efficiency, and power single 20kWh lithium-ion battery. Because of these characteristics, the electric solar airplane is able to fly autonomously for 24 hours.
According to SolarStratos President and Pilot Raphael Domjan: “SolarStratos has an opportunity to push the limits of what we think is humanly possible and prove that renewable energy has the capacity to power our lives while preserving our planet. We are fortunate to energize SolarStratos with SunPower’s industry-leading solar technology and look forward to further showcasing the value of innovative and reliable solar solutions for the world to see.”
The goal of the project is to prove and showcase the abilities of the electric technology. The idea of building autonomous transport is not new, and with the development of renewable energy technologies, it is becoming possible. We have seen the Solar Impulse 2 and even PlanetSolar, an impressive solar energy catamaran, in the past, and, who knows what is next?