China has successfully tested its first fully solar-powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)/drone namely ‘Qimingxing-50’ or Morning star-50 which can fly uninterrupted for months and can function even as a satellite if required. It is also referred to as a ‘High Altitude Platform Stations’ or a pseudo satellite.
- It is China’s first large-sized UAV powered only by solar energy.
- It can fly continuously for long periods at an altitude of 20 km above the earth’s surface.
- It took off from an airport in Yulin, northwest China’s Shaanxi province and landed smoothly after 26 minutes airborne with all systems operating normally.
- With a wingspan of 50 m, it is a High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) UAV drone that is capable of high-altitude aerial reconnaissance, assessing forest fire and can also be used for communications.
- It will enhance Chinese defences in space and at sea as it can keep flying even during periods of overnight darkness.
- It can be used in the field of renewable energy, new materials and aeronautical engineering.
- Point to be noted:
The United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) are among the nations that have built solar-powered drones that can fly as high as 20 km up in the sky. In July, 2022, the US army tested a solar-powered, near-space Airbus Zephyr S drone that set a new record by being airborne for 64 days.
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