Endless Flight: The Solar-powered Zephyr could fly forever

Zoom on the stratospheric balloon: First manned flight test for the Zephyr Endless Flight – a project aiming to go on an 8000-metre-high voyage using only helium and the sun.


images: zeph.fr

The Perpetuum mobile, literally meaning “perpetual motion”, is one of the biggest dreams of human kind. The history of perpetual motion machines dates back to the Middle Ages and continues to the aviation sector with this version of “perpetuum volant” coming from France. The Solar-powered Zephyr project launched by Zephyr Endless Flight can climb and descent without ballast or fuel. Zephyr is taking a fresh look at the balloon concept offering an eco-friendly customizable journey with fully flexible departures and flights. Zephyr will go on an 8000-metre-high voyage using only helium and the sun.

By exclusively using solar energy, Zephyr leaves no trace in the atmosphere and opens the way for new data collection in many scientific fields. Zephyr is set to break an emblematic record: the longest manned flight. Carried by winds, two pilots will fly nonstop for 30 days in an extraordinary human adventure.

With its partners, Zephyr is also preparing the future with totally new journeys: flying at 25km in the stratopshere, at the edge of space.

Zephyr has no limitation of the standard balloon and is able to regulate its altitude without making use of ballast. Taking advantage of radical technical changes, the balloon exclusively uses solar energy and can fly without any fuel or any imposed time limit.

CNES ZephyrEndlessFlight 2017 Zephyr Endless Flight at CNES

The gondola, a real base for exploration

An 8m2 space where everything is provided for: rest, food, oxygen, insulation against the sun and the cold and even… sport  with an exercise bike which is essential to keep fit and can even produce electricity.

A wide range of emergency equipment is stocked on board, enabling the pilots to cope with every perceivable circumstance. Specific procedures have been established with assistance services and air telemedicine can be contacted round the clock by satellite.