This involves flying twice as high as a commercial airliner’s typical cruising altitude, according to the Swiss company, and they have just signed up SunPower as the exclusive solar cell provider for its aircraft.
Apparently, the prototype is the first solar-powered airplane to have reached a height of 25,000 meters. And it’s 100% solar-powered, so there’e no fuel.
It’s certainly a good excuse to show some spectacular images.
“Soaring at such heights requires an unprecedented level of solar performance and durability, making SunPower’s unique solar technology a natural choice for SolarStratos,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and chairman of the board.
“The plane features the same extraordinary cells as those found in our high efficiency solar panels powering homes and businesses here on land – a true testament to our innovation as a solar leader.”
The next generation SolarStratos plane at a glance:
- Length: 8.5 meters – about 30 feet, or the distance from the end zone to the 10-yard line on an American football field
- Wingspan: 24.8 meters – about 81 feet, or the length of two standard city buses
- Weight: 450 kilograms – about as heavy as a grand piano; to make SolarStratos its lightest, the cabin will not be pressurized, requiring pilots to wear astronaut suits that are pressurized by solar energy
- Engine: 32-kilowatt electrical engine, about one-third the size of what would power an electric vehicle
- Energy: 22 square meters of SunPower Maxeon solar cells, each reaching 22 to 24 percent efficiency
- Batteries: One 20-kilowatt lithium ion battery
- Autonomy: Self-generates electricity with solar to power the plane for more than 12 hours
“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,” said SolarStratos President and Pilot Raphael Domjan.
“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.”