S. Korean aircraft maker succeeds in 53-hour test flight of solar-powered UAV

By Park Sae-jin Posted : August 26, 2020, 11:14 Updated : August 26, 2020, 11:14

[Courtesy of Korea Aerospace Industries ]

SEOUL -- Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), the sole aircraft maker in South Korea, has succeeded in the 53-hour test flight of a high-altitude solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle.

Solar-powered UAVs have been researched for their ability to fly in high altitudes more than 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) above sea level while charging batteries. They can stay up in the air for many hours to monitor the weather and geological or natural phenomena such as a wildfire. Many countries also develop solar-powered UAVs for military purposes.

KAI said in a statement on August 26 that its high-altitude solar-powered UAV took off at an aviation center some 320 km south of Seoul at 5:35 a.m. (2035 GMT) on August 16 and returned to its base at 10:41 a.m. on August 18 after staying up to 18 km above sea level for 16 hours.

The aircraft maker started the development of solar-powered UAVs in 2016 by sending an unmanned aircraft into an altitude of 18 km above sea level for 90 minutes. KAI has used high-performance battery packs as well as lightweight and durable structures. KAI's UAV can send live high-definition video feed to a station within a 50-kilometer radius.

KAI said it would develop a solar-powered UAV capable of staying up in the air for months to collect aerial and weather data as well as air samples.
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