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China to test near-space flight of solar drone

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-02-07 14:47

BEIJING -- China will test how its largest solar drone performs near-space flight this year, according to the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) Tuesday.

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, according to chief engineer of the CAAA drone project Shi Wen.

The drone is the second largest solar-powered drone in the world, beaten only by a model by NASA, said Shi, 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, he added.

Th chief engineer did not elaborate on details, but said such drones can usually ascend to an altitude of 20 to 30 kilometers, and cruise 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, according to Shi.

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