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Thales Alenia Space, a joint company between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has announced the successful completion of static mechanical validation tests of the first full-scale photovoltaic modules specially designed for its Stratobus TM autonomous stratospheric airship.

Stratobus TM will operate at an altitude of 20 kilometers (above regular air traffic) and will perform a wide range of missions, including observation, surveillance and telecommunications, with a service life of five years. To ensure continuity of service, Stratobus TM must remain stationary in its position and withstand winds of up to 90 km/h. To achieve this, it will have 1,000 square meters of photovoltaic cells, which will cover a quarter of the surface area of its envelope and provide the power needed for its four electric motors, energy storage system and mission payload.

Read More: Understanding Class E Airspace

Ultralight PV modules

Thales Alenia Space, in collaboration with CEA LITEN working on its INES campus, has developed an innovative photovoltaic technology: flexible, low-cost, lightweight modules weighing less than 800 g/m2 and offering a high power output of more than 200 W/m² and a large surface area of over 4 m².

Ultralight PV modules

Each module comprises an assembly of PV cells with a high efficiency rating of over 24%. Recent tests have demonstrated the high stability of the encapsulation materials in the presence of UV radiation and ozone, combined with low relative power loss after thermal cycling. The modules are designed to withstand the specific thermal and mechanical stresses of the operating environment, including the expansion and contraction of the envelope, while meeting the long service life requirement for this type of technology.

This innovative PV module technology will be incorporated into the full-scale model of Stratobus TM for its first flight in 2022.

*The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission’s innovation laboratory for new energy technologies
**France’s national solar energy institute

About Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of 2.6 billion euros in 2017 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.

For more information, visit www.thalesaleniaspace.com

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