To The Edge Of Space With Solar Energy? Meet Solar Stratos (w/video)

JUL 10 2014 BY MARK KANE 12

Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos model

Raphaël Domjan, an eco-adventurer, announced this Spring a new solar adventure to reach end of the World Sky – the SolarStratos Mission.

“On board the first two-seater solar plane, he will ascend to more than 80’000 feet. This solar adventure planned as from 2017, will have the aim of opening a door on a commercial touristic activity at the edge of space. This ambitious mission is a first, permitting once again a demonstration of the potential of renewable energy.”

Solar Stratos, based on PC-Aero solar plane, has yet to be developed.  For now, the team presented only a small model.

4 hours of constant climb is needed to reach 80,000 feet (or 24,000 meters).  However, we are curious how will this plane cope with the sparse air at such an altitude.

The aeroplane in a few figures

Lenght7.7 meters
Wingspan20 meters
Weight350 kilos
Autonomymore than 24 hours
PropulsionPropeller (1.6 m, 3 blades)
Engineelectrical engine (13,5 kW)
Two-seater in tandem
Solar cells20 m2 (24% efficiency)
Batteriesup to 80 kg Li-ion (20 kWh)


Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos – model

Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos

Solar Stratos

Categories: General


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12 Comments on "To The Edge Of Space With Solar Energy? Meet Solar Stratos (w/video)"

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I wonder what they are doing about oxygen?
Pressurisation would make it too heavy I would have thought, and unpressurised aircraft I understand usually stay a heck of a lot lower than that.

I’d guess a pressure suit, with oxygen.

It does not look like a pressurized cabin.

Above 60,000 ft a pressurized space suit would be required. Flying to 80-90,000 ft is possible provided the aircraft is capable of flying at faster speeds required when going higher.

Faster speeds is alllso les energetic to maintain in high altetudes,

You have to go faster to compensate for the thinner air. The atmosphere gets thinner at a linear rate. There is no limit to this, that is, you could theoretically fly an airplane into space. The factors would be:

1. (obviously) you need oxygen.

2. At the speeds needed, the (thin) atmosphere heats because at the speeds needed, you up the friction with the atmosphere considerably.

3. At some point, a simple propeller won’t be able to turn fast enough to generate thrust.

What they are doing that is unmentioned is by avoiding an air breathing engine, they sidestep problems feeding air to the engine.

None of this is new. The X15 flew to 100 KM (yes, 4 times as high) by using a rocket engine and systems to deal with atmospheric heating. People talked about using this method to simply “fly off into space”, basically go faster until you achieved escape velocity, but standard rockets were considered a better and cheaper bet.

I thought the mantra of was if it has a plug it’s an EV and will be included in the discussion on this site. Does the Solar Stratos have a plug?

I would guess so, it would be rather inconviniant if you had to pull it out of the hangar and wait for the battery to be toped up.

Tecnicaly it is an “ev” if it is an electric driven, i have not read anywere that plugg is what gives somthing an ev stamp.
The cars with inductive ccharging will be excluded using your logic

24 km is not even close to the edge of space.

Battery thermal management takes on a whole new meaning at those altitudes. It will be cold.

This is also the rationale of Elon Musk’s hypersonic electric jet. As electric airplanes are not depended on atmospheric oxygen, they can fly on much higher altititudes — 50 km and above. This means over mach 5 cruising speeds and therefore huge gain in energy efficiency that negates the low energy density of batteries compared to kerosene.

They should try to increase the altitude to 90000 feet because the nit would take an extra dimension. Indeed 90000 feet is the altitude which is equivalent to the average Mars atmospheric pressure. Since it is solar powered, it would as a matter of fact be able to fly on Mars as well. Of course you have less sun on Mars which would seem to make it difficult but fortunately you also happen to have only one third the gravity as well, so this would compensate each other. 90000 feet is still 10000 feet more but it is worth the extra effort to be able to claim a flight Mars capability.