Chinese Solar-Powered Airship Breaks World Records!
It turns out that airships and dirigibles aren’t a thing of the past. They’re quickly becoming a thing of the future!
These new aircraft aren’t being built on a mass-producing assembly line, though. The Chinese vessel Yuanmeng took years to build and complete!
This is not the only airship in production, however. There is another, even bigger one currently in production in America, so it seems that safe, solar-powered helium-based dirigibles may be making a high-tech comeback! Of course, if that is the case, we can only hope someday for the luxury passenger models to finally become a reality. A leisurely cruise – or float, rather – through the skies sounds like a pretty fantastic holiday right about now!
Check out the details below!
The Yuanmeng (which means “dream”) embarked upon its maiden flight this month, launching from Xilinhot in Inner Mongolia to test its systems and capabilities. According to reports, the 75-metre-long airship’s 48-hour test flight last week saw the airship rise to a near-space altitude of 20 kilometres.
The massive length of the ship corresponds to an equally vast size when the Yuanmeng is fully inflated, with a volume of approximately 18,000 cubic metres. The aircraft stands at 22 metres high, and can carry a payload of between 4.5 and 6.3 metric tonnes.
The Yuanmeng uses helium gas to rise and relies largely on solar power to keep its electronics running while in the air. The airship is said to be able to fly for up to six months at a stretch, with a large array of solar panels covering the mid-portion of the aircraft’s top side.
It’s not exactly clear what the vessel’s intended use is, but a report in the People’s Daily suggests that it might be used for communications purposes, as the ship is said to be loaded with systems for wideband communication, data relay, high-definition observation, and spatial imaging.
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