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First skydive from a solar electric plane accomplished in Switzerland

Earlier this month SolarStratos became the second solar plane in history to carry two people. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The world’s first skydive off the solar-powered electric plane SolarStratos has been completed successfully in western Switzerland. 

This content was published on August 25, 2020 - 12:12
swissinfo.ch/ac

SolarStratos took off from the aerodrome in Payerne at 7:40am on Tuesday with two people on board: test pilot Miguel Iturmendi and co-pilot Raphaël Domjan. Shortly afterwards, Domjan jumped from the aircraft when it reached an altitude of around 1,538 metres and cruising speed of almost 100km/h.  

Domjan was able to open his parachute in time and navigate it to the Payerne aerodrome. He was welcomed by Swiss adventurer and friend Bertrand Piccard, who had circumnavigated the globe in the solar airplane Solar Impulse in 2016. 

Two world records were set: the first jump in history from an electric aircraft exclusively charged with solar energy and the first solar free fall. 

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SolarStratos is 8.5 metres long and has a wingspan of 24.8 metres. It weighs 450kg and is covered with 22m2 of solar panels. The project was launched in 2014 and the aircraft made its maiden flight in 2017.  

The team’s goal is to take the aircraft up into the icy stratosphere to 25km above the Earth – three times the height of Mount Everest – which would represent a historical first for a solar plane fitted with electric engines. 

In May the plane reached an altitude of 26,000 feet (almost 8km) on a test flight. 

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