China To Test Its Largest Solar Drone At High Altitude

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Beijing: China will test the performance of the world’s second largest solar-powered drone in near-space flight this year.

With a wingspan of more than 40 meters, wider than that of a Boeing 737 passenger plane, the rainbow series drone has just passed its first full-scale test flight, chief engineer of the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) drone project Shi Wen said.

It is the second largest solar-powered drone in the world, beaten only by a model by NASA, Shi said, adding its performance index and technological capacity are among the most advanced in the world.

The drone is capable of flying at an extremely high altitude for a long time and its maintenance is easy and simple, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

The chief engineer did not elaborate on details, but said such drones can usually ascend to an altitude of 20 to 30 kilometers, and crusise at a speed of 150 to 200 km per hour.

The unmanned aerial vehicle will be used mostly for airborne early warning, aerial reconnaissance, disaster monitoring, meteorological observation and communications relay, Shi said.