The Fischer Connectors Group, based in St-Prex, Switzerland, joins the SolarStratos project as Official Partner to provide mission-critical connectivity to the solar-powered HB-SXA plane. This first manned solar plane to penetrate the stratosphere 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. Designed and built in 2016 in Switzerland, 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 just 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 from June 15-22 in Montreal, where it will be the guest star of 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.
The connectivity partner
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 fast over long distances;
- wide range of standard and customized rugged connectors and cable assembly solutions;
- Swiss-made technology and footprint.
Fischer Connectors’ engineers are partnering closely with the SolarStratos team to design and deliver the ideal solutions to ensure the mission’s success. Stéphane Rohrbach, Engineering Director of Fischer Connectors, is enthusiastic: “Our R&D will provide the interconnect solutions dedicated to the transmission of images from onboard cameras or further control data. We look forward to putting our expertise and knowhow at the service of this brand-new technological project.”
SolarStratos’ founder and pilot Raphaël Domjan also stresses how important it is to count on full connectivity solutions: “We are pleased to find in our new partner a provider capable of developing connectors as well as the cable assemblies that are needed to continually transmit mission-critical data. Faultless connectivity between the pilot and our team, as well as with supporters and the general public worldwide, will be crucial to ensuring the success and impact of this historical Swiss and global adventure.”
Fischer Connectors and SolarStratos have much in common. Both are pioneers in innovation with a passion for going beyond what’s considered possible and pushing back the limits of human understanding. As Jonathan Brossard, CEO of Fischer Connectors, explains: “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. We consider ourselves more than partners to SolarStratos – we’re devoted fans!”