Parachutist makes world’s first jump from solar-powered plane

A parachutist has completed the world’s first jump from a solar-powered aircraft as part of a PR event to promote renewable energy and the SolarStratos project.

The SolarStratos two-seater prototype plane made the test flight on Tuesday in good weather above western Switzerland.

The plane soared to a height of 1,520 metres (nearly 5,000 ft) before parachutist Raphael Domjan launched himself from the plane’s fuselage. Domjan reached a speed of 150 kilometres per hour during his jump, before landing near the project base in Payerne.

It was the first time we did a solar skydive, I climbed with the energy coming from the solar cells of the plane

Raphael Domjan

“Today there were many firsts but the most important is [this is] the first time ever that someone jumped from an electric aircraft. And this is something that is changing the future for this sport for sky divers,” said Domjan, the instigator of the SolarStratos project and who co-piloted the plane.

“It was the first time we did a solar skydive, I climbed with the energy coming from the solar cells of the plane,” he said.

SolarStratos is the first commercial two-seater solar plane in history. The SolarStratos team plans for the aircraft to be the first manned solar plane to penetrate the stratosphere.

Designed by Calin Gologan, Elektra-Solar GmbH, the aircraft has a 24m wingspan and weighs 450kg.

In 2022, the team aims to carry out a high-altitude flight powered exclusively by solar energy, seeking to reach the stratosphere with an altitude of 20,000 metres.

According to the project’s website the SolarStratos team aims to demonstrate that it is possible for electric and solar vehicles to exceed the potential of fossil fueled craft using current technology.

“Exploring distant space we wish to contribute primarily to the protection of our atmosphere, this requires a better understanding of what is happening. The SolarStratos Mission will fly at an altitude little frequented in a fragile environment, propelled solely by solar energy without any pollutant emissions and will give us the possibility to make new measurements, never done before. In the future, the exploration of the stratosphere may allow us to extend and to understand humanity… Who knows…”

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