Elektra Aims for Stratosphere

Following flight tests this year, the next step in the DLR’s Elektra project will be the first stratospheric flights in 2018. DLR

On May 5, an all-new solar-powered aircraft developed by the DLR (German Aerospace Centre) called the Elektra-2 completed its first flight from Payerne, Switzerland. The aircraft is designed to undertake research flights and experiments at altitudes of up to 65,000ft (20,000m), specifically testing technologies designed for use in the stratosphere to provide broadband internet coverage and remote sensing.

The Elektra-2 has a 25m (82ft) wingspan, weighs 420kg (926lb) and is designed to take a payload of up to 100kg (220lb). According to the DLR, no other solar-powered aircraft with a comparable payload has reached the stratosphere. The aircraft is manned but a further version under construction will be unmanned. The DLR is planning to fly a lighter version of the aircraft without landing gear.