Forget those cigar-shaped dirigibles of yore. German-American collaboration has produced a tadpole-like airship that could debut within days, and make even a jaded Sky Captain take a second look.
The STS-111 "Stratellite" drone airship has a segmented design that uses a trick from the golden age of dirigibles to overcome buoyancy control issues. Helium meant for buoyancy only fills the head compartment of the airship, while the sagging tail section holds a "Fuelgas" mixture that has the same density as air. That allows the buoyancy of the ship to remain stable even as fuel burns off.
The Register reports that the Graf Zeppelin airship of the 1930s previously used this technique by filling a quarter of its hull with neutrally buoyant "Blaugas" fuel. A smaller prototype in the video gives a good idea of how the full-scale, 111-foot-long airship will fly.
Sanswire and TAO Technologies GmbH envision the STS-111 as a medium-altitude ship that could lurk around 60,000 feet to serve as a communications relay point.
PopSci has examined many other airship designs that have recently come into vogue as commuter transports or even flying luxury hotels. But admittedly, none of those boasted quite so ... unique a shape.
[via The Register]
Looks more like a snake than the organism described in the title.
It's great to see other ideas succeed with the old airship designs that take advantage of past experience and advanced modern technology. The French discovered it the Germans perfected it and in the late 1800's and early 1900's it was the only way to fly until the Hindenburg disaster. It's a shame they didn't continue with them because all the crashes before the Hindenburg most people still survived, when an airplane crashes most people die.
This new design may also be useful to explore Mars???
I dabbled in new types of airship-type designs myself in 2003 and presented my findings at the Mars Society Conference on how to explore Mars with different Windsurfing airship designs that theoretically allowed a surface rover to travel over 1,500 miles. "The Windsurfer" could travel up and down valleys, in and out of craters, over cliffs etc, etc.
I used scale models and made a movie of a rover climbing up steep rocky hills, in fact one got loose on me and climbed over a bridge and landed safely back on the ground and kept on going.
Here a link to the website that shows it all.
The problem with using dirgies to fly in the speed. People who want to fly want to get there NOW (probably due to the ten hours spent having your shoes checked for nuclear devices).
As drones, however, dirgies ability to stay aloft for extended periods of time have several military application potentials.
@rlb2 Did you ever read that popsci issue out years ago with modern day, luxurious zeppelins? I think it would be perfect.
Imagine... cruising along the rocky mountains, perfectly safe.
that, my friend is the future of recreational airflight.
check out a picture: http://infranetlab.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/09_04_28_airship05.jpg
not to sound kinda of off topic, but did they just say sperm? Dang man, you used to be in sooooo much trouble for saying that. really amazing piece of machinery. shows how far we truly have come from the wright brother's first flight at kitty hawk.
oh yeah btw, i forget where on earth i read this, but they said something about a portable flight suit. would that have anything to do with this? just wondering.