The WindSled will have its ultimate test in the Antarctica Circumnavigation Expedition, to be held in the austral summer of 2018-2019. It will be a journey never undertaken before and with an absolutely ‘clean’ vehicle.
The objective is to accomplish a circular 7000 km (4349.59 mi) route inside the continent during the months of November 2018 until February 2019, of one hundred days of duration. This expedition will demonstrate that this eco-vehicle is ready for long routes and that it is also ready to transport enough equipment and scientific material to carry out programs of a certain magnitude and scope.
The initial project includes the ability to transport between 3.5 and 4 tons on a sled pulled by kites and composed of three principal modules:
The Locomotive Module: This module will act as a locomotive and a transparent tent will be placed to alleviate low temperatures, sometimes exceeding 40 degrees below zero.
The Storage Module: This module will be a loading module for scientific equipment and expedition requirements (food, clothing, sleeping bags, cameras…). In addition, it will take 10 to 12 square meters (107.63 to 129.16 sq ft) of installed photovoltaic panels for energy production to be stored in six large batteries and several smaller ones. This module may transport up to 1.5 metric tons (3,307 pounds) of ice samples.
The Living Module: The third module will provide housing and laboratory for pilots and scientists. It will consist of four plastic tents, or “greenhouses”, to facilitate warming and the so called “greenhouse effect”.
They will be led by twenty kites between 5 and 100 square meters (53.81 and 1076.39 sq ft), to be used according to wind conditions, which may have oscillating speeds of between 6 and 60 km (3.72 and 37.28 mi) / h. All of them will be reinforced with Kevlar material. The lines that will link to the pulleys are up to 500 meters (1640.41 ft) in length, to maximize the potential of the wind columns on the Antarctic Plateau.
Overall, the WindSled is 13 meters (42.65 ft) long and 4.5 meters (14.76 ft) wide with divisions in three parts.
The expedition has been designed for a crew of six: two scientists and four technicians who will be taking turns in two teams of three people so the WindSled is running 24 hours uninterruptedly when weather conditions are permitting.