A parachutist completed the world's first jump from a solar-powered aircraft Tuesday, leaping from a height of 1,520 meters over western Switzerland.
The parachutist, Raphael Domjan, also is the founder of the SolarStratos project, the group behind the feat, designed to promote renewable energy. Domjan jumped from a two-seater prototype plane after it reached a speed of 150 kilometers per hour, and he landed near the project’s base in the city of Payerne.
Domjan said there were many unknowns involved in the jump, such as what would happen when he stepped out on the wing, where the solar cells are mounted. He said he was not sure how the plane would respond.
Domjan said part of the goal is to show renewable energy can be used to pursue all kinds of activities - such as skydiving - without producing planet-warming greenhouse gases.
The SolarStratos team follows the pioneering work of Switzerland's Solar Impulse mission, which completed the first circumnavigation of the globe with a solar-powered plane in 2016.
The team's goal is to eventually fly the single-propeller aircraft studded with 22 square meters of solar panels into the stratosphere. In 2022, the team hopes to carry out a high-altitude flight powered exclusively by solar energy, seeking to reach the stratosphere at an altitude of 20,000 meters.