Good news for technology and an extra step for astronomy!

Thales Alenia Space, JV between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%, announced the successful completion of the mechanical static validation tests of the first full-scale photovoltaic modules specifically designed for the Stratobus autonomous stratospheric airship.

If in case you would be wondering what Thales Alenia Space was, I would like to do it by describing you in a few words what it deals with:Thales operates in the markets of security, transport, defense, aerospace and space. Thales has been present in Italy since 1988 and now has 2800 employees in the country.It offers technological solutions aimed at the air traffic management market, with expertise in landing, navigation and surveillance systems; to the defense sector, with expertise in military communications and electronic warfare; to the transport market, with expertise in railway signaling and supervision solutions; to that of security, with expertise in the protection and supervision of critical infrastructures; and, finally, to the space sector, with expertise in space telecommunication systems, navigation, Earth observation, exploration.


To meet the customer’s needs, Thales has a solid portfolio of dual products and technologies for both civil and military markets.


Its strong vocation for innovation is nourished by numerous and profitable collaborations with the best Italian universities and research centers, collaborations that allow us to anticipate the challenges of the market. StratobusT will operate at an altitude of 20 kilometers (above the regular air traffic) and will carry out various missions, including observation, surveillance and telecommunications, a product with a life span of five years. To ensure continuity of service, StratobusTMrimarrà stationary in its position and will support winds up to 90 km / h. To do so, it will be equipped with 1,000 square meters of photovoltaic cells, which will cover a quarter of the surface area of ​​its envelope and provide the energy needed for its four electric motors, energy storage system and mission payload.

Ultra-light PV modules

Consider that Thales Alenia Space, working with CEA-LITEN on its campuses at the INES institute, has developed an innovative photovoltaic technology: flexible, low-cost modules weighing 800 g / m2, which offer a high power of over 200 W / m2 and a large surface area of ​​over 4 m2.

Each module includes a group of PV cells with a high efficiency rate of over 24%. Recent tests have shown the high stability of encapsulating materials in the presence of UV and ozone radiation and a relative power loss after the thermal cycle. The modules are designed to withstand the thermal and mechanical stresses of the operating environment, including the expansion and contraction of the enclosure, while respecting the long life expectancy requirements for this type of technology.

This innovative PV module technology will be incorporated into the real-scale StratobusTM model for its first flight in 2022.

The innovative laboratory for energy technologies of the Commission for Alternative Energy and French Atomic Energy.

I’m very happy with this news … because it shows that we always try to keep up with the world powers and the research continues to give its results

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