In 2026, Solar Airship One will embark on a twenty-day world tour around the equator without polluting or emitting carbon. The airship will be piloted by a French-speaking crew.
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Going around the world without fuel or polluting emissions is possible and has already been achieved with the Solar Impulse solar plane. In three years, it will be the turn of Solar Airship OneEuro AirShip, a gigantic airship, to embark on this adventure. To go around the equator, that is to say around 40,000 kilometers, it will take around twenty days.
The envelope of this airship with a length of 151 meters will be covered with 4,800 m² of photovoltaic film. It will power the electric propulsion system during the day. The excess energy will be used to electrolyze water into hydrogen. At night, a fuel cell, with this hydrogen, will continue to power the airship’s electric motors.
If the propulsion runs on renewable energy, only one element is not replaceable or renewable: helium which is contained in 15 separate envelopes for a total of 50,000 cubic meters. It is this helium which will keep the device in the air.
Video presentation of the Solar Airship One airship. © EuroAirShip
A crew of aeronautics stars
With this assembly, the airship should evolve with an average speed of just over 83 km/h at an altitude of around 6,000 meters. This trip around the world as close as possible to the equator is scheduled for 2026, and the airship will be piloted by a crew of three renowned pilots.
We will thus find Bertrand Piccard, the pilot of Solar Impulse 2 who had already completed a world tour in 2015-2016. Paraplegic aerobatic pilot Dorine Bourneton will also be at the controls. Finally, former astronaut and French army pilot Michel Tognini will also be present.
In addition to the feat and the search for zero-emission means of transport, this type of adventure also allows us to look for ways to transport goods of the future. Airships can be part of the equation given that they are capable of carrying up to 10 times the payload of a cargo plane for a quarter of the cost. On the other hand, you shouldn’t be in a hurry…
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