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China to build near-space airborne mobile Wi-Fi hub with solar drones

(People's Daily Online)    13:58, July 25, 2017

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China is developing an airborne mobile Wi-Fi hub in near space with solar-powered drones. The Feiyun ("Flying Cloud") project is able to secure emergency communication for more than one week and proof of concept is expected to be demonstrated before the end of year, Science and Technology Daily reported on July 25.

The near space region, which lies 20 to 100 km above sea level, has become an emerging strategic space for major countries. The thin air reduces the performance of traditional fuel-powered aircraft engines, so developing solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicles that can fly continuously during long-term missions is the key primary equipment supporting the development of near-space information industry.

According to Ma Hongzhong, director of UAV Research Institute at the Third Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the near-space solar drone usually flies at an altitude of at least 20 km for several days. It will function as a "quasi-satellite" in the future, being able to provide remote sensing and telecommunication services.

Compared with low-orbit satellites and high-orbit satellites, near-space solar drones are cheaper to build and maintain and have a higher spatial resolution.

The research team will focus on the development of the drone's core technologies, including energy usage, power generation, pneumatic systems, and structure, so as to carry out flight experiments as soon as possible. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Du Mingming, Bianji)

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