Imagine flying around the world in a giant airship, powered by nothing but the sun and hydrogen, without emitting greenhouse gases or making any noise. Sounds like a sci-fi fantasy, right? Well, not anymore. Meet Solar Airship One, the ambitious project that aims to make this dream a reality by 2026.
What is Solar Airship One?
Solar Airship One is a rigid airship that measures 495 feet (151 meters) in length and has a helium volume of 53,000 cubic meters. It is covered with 4,800 square meters of solar film, which generates electricity during the day to power the electric propulsion system and store excess energy in fuel cells. At night, the fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity, allowing the airship to fly continuously without fossil fuels.
The airship is designed to be versatile and adaptable, with 15 individually controlled gas envelopes that enable precise maneuvering even in adverse weather conditions. It also has a spacious cabin that can accommodate up to 12 passengers and crew and a cargo bay that can carry up to 10 tons of payload.
Who is behind Solar Airship One?
Solar Airship One is the brainchild of Euro Airship, a French company that specializes in developing innovative and sustainable airships for various applications. The company was founded in 2009 by Jean-François Chanut, a former Airbus engineer who has been passionate about airships since his childhood.
Euro Airship has partnered with several leading companies and organizations to support the Solar Airship One project, such as Capgemini, Groupe La Poste, Orange, CNES (the French space agency), and ESA (the European Space Agency). The project also benefits from the expertise and experience of some renowned personalities, such as:
- Michel Tognini is a former astronaut who flew on two space shuttle missions and served as the head of the European Astronaut Centre.
- Dorine Bourneton was a paraplegic pilot who became the first disabled woman to obtain a professional pilot license and perform aerobatic flights.
- Bertrand Piccard, an adventurer and environmentalist, completed the first round-the-world flight in a balloon and a solar-powered airplane.
These three exceptional individuals will be part of the crew that will pilot Solar Airship One on its historic world tour.
What is the goal of Solar Airship One?
The ultimate goal of Solar Airship One is to demonstrate that it is possible to fly around the world without any emissions or noise, using only renewable energy sources. The project also aims to raise awareness about the environmental challenges facing the aviation industry and inspire new solutions for sustainable mobility.
The world tour will start and end in Toulouse, France, where Euro Airship is based. The airship will follow the equator’s path, covering a distance of 24,854 miles (40,000 kilometers) in about 20 days. It will fly over 25 countries and cross four continents, showcasing its capabilities and potential to various audiences along the way.
The flight will be a remarkable feat of endurance and innovation, as Solar Airship One will have to cope with different weather conditions, altitudes, and time zones. It will also be a unique opportunity to explore the beauty and diversity of our planet from a new perspective.
Why should we care about Solar Airship One?
Solar Airship One is more than just a technological marvel. It also symbolizes hope and optimism for the future of aviation and humanity. By proving that it is possible to fly around the world with zero emissions and zero noise, Solar Airship One challenges us to rethink our relationship with nature and our impact on the environment.
Solar Airship One also opens up new possibilities for travel and adventure, offering a slower but more immersive and enjoyable way of flying. Imagine cruising over the Amazon rainforest, the Sahara desert, or the Pacific islands while enjoying the comfort and luxury of a spacious cabin. Imagine stopping and starting at any point without needing a runway or an airport. Imagine being able to experience the world from a different angle, with a 360-degree view of the sky and the earth.
Solar Airship One is not just an airship. It is an invitation to dream big and act responsibly. It is an invitation to join a new era of aviation that respects nature and celebrates life. @via newatlas.