Fischer to Provide Connectivity Solutions for High Altitude Solar-Powered Aircraft

Published: 01 Sep 2017

SolarStratos HB-SXA solar powered aircraft

The Fischer Connectors Group has announced that it has joined the SolarStratos project as Official Partner to provide mission-critical connectivity to the solar-powered HB-SXA plane. This solar plane will be the first to penetrate the stratosphere and aims to demonstrate the potential of solar energy and explore new territories for the future of aviation.

SolarStratos HB-SXA is propelled solely by solar energy, backed by a Li-ion battery. It will be the first piloted solar-powered aircraft to enter the stratosphere, and the first solar-powered twin-seater commercial aircraft in history. SolarStratos took its maiden flight in Payerne, Switzerland on May 5th this year. With a wingspan of 24.8 m and a length of 8.5 m, it weighs 350 kg. The project is led by SolarStratos’ founder and pilot Raphaël Domjan, supported by an international team of experienced professionals and partners including engineers, a former astronaut, pilots, meteorologists and doctors.

SolarStratos’ mission aims to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy, looking ahead to the commercialization of manned and unmanned solar-powered aerial vehicles. The next steps are:

  • 2018 – Preparation of the plane for the stratospheric flight; first flights with space suit
  • 2019 – Record flight in the stratosphere
  • From 2020 – Beginning of the commercial phase

SolarStratos’ first international “stopover” will be in Montreal, Canada, at the Northern Solar Festival and the 12th Metropolis World Congress.

In the hostile environment on the edge of space, the human and technical challenges are daunting. The pilot and aircraft will be subjected to temperatures down to 70°C below zero and cosmic radiation. All technology on board has to withstand extreme environments and be totally reliable. Faultless connectivity between the pilot and his team, as well as with supporters and the general public worldwide, will be crucial to ensuring the success and impact of the project.

Fischer Connectors’ electrical and optical connectivity solutions have been selected by SolarStratos for their track record of high reliability in extreme environments, optimal ratio of light weight and high performance, ability to transmit large volumes of data quickly over long distances, and wide range of standard and customized rugged connectors and cable assembly solutions.

Fischer Connectors’ engineers are partnering closely with the SolarStratos team to design and deliver the ideal solutions to ensure the mission’s success.

Jonathan Brossard, CEO of Fischer Connectors, commented: “Fischer Connectors and SolarStratos have so much in common. We’re both pioneers in innovation with a passion for going beyond what’s considered possible and pushing back the limits of human understanding. We’re both Swiss and global, collaborating with many partners locally and globally, and harnessing Swiss high-performance technology and our passion for renewables to re-invent the aviation of the future. Protecting the environment and using solar energy lie at the heart of our strategy, and we’re looking forward to installing a solar rooftop at our HQ in St-Prex, Switzerland this summer.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passions for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years.

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