Solar-powered Chinese Drone Can Stay in the Air for Months


The 130-foot-wide machine “Caihong-T4” (or “Rainbow”) has set a record after flying an an attitude over 20 km.

The drone is powered by eight propellers using renewable energy. Caihong-T4 features a double-bodied fuselage, cranked wing, and twin tail. It could fly at a speed of 125 miles per hour. Despite it’s wider than a Boeing 737 jetliner, the drone is super lightweight (approx. 900 pounds) due to the carbon fiber and plastic components used on the aircraft. Creators from Chinese Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics expect the drone to stay in the air for months or even years at extremely high attitudes. The flight height allows it to fly above the clouds giving it full access to constant sunlight. 

Caihong-T4 now ranks the second place to NASA Helios Prototype, another solar-powered craft in terms of size and flight altitude. The experts say that the drone could play an excellent platform for surveillance missions both for military and anti-terrorist applications as it has an impressive visual coverage of more than 400,000 square miles. The ability of Caihong-T4 to cover so much territory makes it an excellent data relay and communications node.

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