It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane…Nope, it’s just the Raphael Domjan completing the first parachute jump from a solar-powered aircraft called SolarStratos, a 28-foot two-seater with an 81-foot wingspan. The plane, which was powered by 22 square meters of solar panels, reached a height of 1,520 meters before parachutist and co-pilot Domjan made his descent. Also unique to this aircraft is that to achieve the ideal weight ratio for cabin, crew, and equipment, the cabin will not be pressurized, so wore an astronaut’s pressurized suit – also a world’s first as it was powered solar energy.
Inspiration for the project came from the fact that emissions from gas-fueled planes account for 2% (915 million tons of carbon dioxide a year) of man-made carbon emissions. Although Domjan, a Swiss eco-adventurer, and principal behind the SolarStratos mission – to reach the stratosphere with a solar plane – carved himself an individual first for humans, the primary mission was to show the capabilities of sustainable flying.
Reaching a speed of 93mph (150kph) before releasing his parachute, the Swiss parachutist touched down safely in Payerne, located in western Switzerland. Aiming to promote the fact that activities such as skydiving can be done without harming our environment, the SolarStratos project proved that with just harnessing the power of the sun, humans could have fun while saving the planet itself.
The small team of only 20 people is a passionate bunch who are pursuing the limits of human ingenuity and heights, all while being mindful of our environment. Hoping to open the door to the future of aviation and mobility in the future, SolarStratos employs a highly experienced and dedicated team of aeronautical engineers, pilots, and specialists in electronics, building, and design.
Aiming to promote renewable energy to protect our planet’s climate from the effect of greenhouse gases, the team’s next big step is hoping to reach the stratosphere in 2022 with the first solar-powered flight.