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A 1/2 scale 125 ft. Bullet airship took flight earlier this year, using identical technology to the Bullet-580.  (Source: E-Green Technologies)

The full-scale Bullet-580 was recently inflated in Alabama.  (Source: E-Green Technologies)

The Bullet-580 will be the world's largest airship. It is intended for military and commercial use and will make its first test flight later this year.  (Source: AP)
Giant blimp will serve to relay satellite communications, perform surveillance

Science Fiction epics like the Final Fantasy Video games and current series Fringe often depict a world in which giant air ships rule the skies. While airplanes aren't about to give up their command of the skies above our world, there's recently been a surprising rejuvenation in real world airships as well.

E-Green Technologies will be among the companies leading airships into the future following its acquisition of 21st Century Airships, in November 2009.  Armed with its new acquisition, the company has created an incredible aerial "stratellite" (stratosphere-satellite) ship, which it plans to sell to military and civilian interests alike.

The new airship, dubbed the Bullet-580, features a massive cylindrical body with a cone head.  The ship measures 235-feet (75 m) long -- as tall as a 23-story skyscraper.  The airship's outer envelope is made of kevlar, the same material used it bulletproof vests.  It is one-sixteenth of an inch thick, but is 10 times as strong as steel in terms of impact resistance.

That strong envelope can protect up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg) of cargo, which can be carried at altitudes of 20,000 feet (6,096 m).  Such high altitudes and ample cargo hauling abilities make the airship well suited for military surveillance or commercial telecommunications duties.

The massive airship is still significantly smaller than its predecessors in the early twentieth century, such as the ill-fated German Hindenberg, which measured 804-feet (245 m).  However, its smaller size allows it to be pretty quick; the Bullet-580 has a top cruising speed of 80 mph.

NASA and Old Dominion University have offered up an experimental payload for the craft's maiden flight, which will be conducted in Norfolk, Virginia. later this year.  The instrumentation put aboard the craft will be used to collect data on moisture content in soil.

The first step towards that test flight -- the inflation of the craft -- has just been carried out.  The craft seems to be holding together perfectly as it rests in the Garrett Coliseum in Montgomery, AL.

Among the diverse roles E-Green Technologies says the craft can fulfill are battlefield surveillance, missile defense warning, electronic countermeasures, weapons platforms, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) services, weather monitoring, broadcast communications and communications relays.

The company hopes production demands will create hundreds of new textile jobs in Alabama where the kevlar coat is produced.  It also hopes for even more engineering, operations, and testing jobs to be created in Central Florida and Northern California, where the company hopes to set up operational centers.

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did i miss something
By GruntboyX on 5/26/2010 3:03:49 PM , Rating: 2
maybe i missed something. But this would seem very vulnerable to attack. Forget the fact its a balloon. Its a big white stationary object in the sky.

RE: did i miss something
By Quadrillity on 5/26/2010 3:23:21 PM , Rating: 5
...which can be carried at altitudes of 20,000 feet (6,096 m)...

Terrorists can't throw rocks quite that high (yet).

RE: did i miss something
By ClownPuncher on 5/26/2010 4:26:03 PM , Rating: 5
It's all in the wrist

RE: did i miss something
By ViroMan on 5/26/2010 11:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
The airship's outer envelope is made of kevlar, the same material used it bulletproof vests. It is one-sixteenth of an inch thick, but is 10 times as strong as steel in terms of impact resistance.

While it says its skin is "10 times as strong as steel" I think one missile impact is all it would need to fall out of sky faster then Hindenburg.

So indeed "its all in the wrist." Holding that missile launcher is hard work.

RE: did i miss something
By DopeFishhh on 5/27/2010 4:37:44 AM , Rating: 3
There have been demonstrations of airships that even after being hit with mortar fire still can limp home. Fixed wing aircraft and helicopters fall out of the sky when they lose power or their wings/rotors, these things don't suddenly lose all lift because someone damaged it.

Hindenburg went down because it used hydrogen and a flammable skin. Helium is nearly as efficient and materials technology is far better these days than back then.

And might I point out that anti aircraft weapons still pose just as much as a threat to non airships, so I don't see why they mean airships are somehow inferior.

RE: did i miss something
By SandmanWN on 5/27/2010 10:21:59 AM , Rating: 3
Yeah, cause the people shooting at it from the ground will only have one missile... You only get one shot at an aircraft but an airship can't run away. You'll have plenty more than one opportunity to take an airship down. Every hit means the craft loses altitude and becomes an easier target.

And lets not forget that the craft is only usable in good conditions. Any major storms roll through and it has to land making it at best a part-time solution. You still have to cover the same area with something else leading to a more complex and wasteful battlefield.

RE: did i miss something
By mindless1 on 5/27/2010 11:56:33 AM , Rating: 2
No, there is not some arbitrary rule that only one person or missile will shoot at an aircraft, quite the contrary.

The point is, if this is not armed with active weaponry it becomes a secondary target, until it is floating over foreign soil there is no real point in shooting it down from a terrorist perspective, a total waste of time like shooting down a random carnival balloon.

Further, it flies ABOVE storms, and since when is a "more complex" battlefield a bad thing? I suppose we could send one guy with a bow 'n arrow and that would /simplify/ the battlefield enough to suit you?

RE: did i miss something
By leuNam on 5/28/2010 11:42:13 AM , Rating: 2
incoming!!!!! (0_0

RE: did i miss something
By Jeffk464 on 6/7/2010 12:47:15 PM , Rating: 2

RE: did i miss something
By geddarkstorm on 5/27/2010 3:41:25 PM , Rating: 2
You know, a ship that size can carry antimissile defenses just like any craft? And even more so. It can go 80 mph, which is slow comparatively, but still enough to get it away from fixed positions. Out fit it with some lasers, and flexible solar panels on top, and you've got a serious weapon. At 20k feet up in the air, it's sitting pretty.

Just gotta use your imagination and ingenuity.

RE: did i miss something
By FaaR on 5/27/2010 4:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
Solar panels and lazars, eh? Well, that'll work just swell, provided you're willing to wait roughly three weeks' worth of strong sunlight to recharge inbetween each shot... ;)

RE: did i miss something
By callmeroy on 5/28/2010 1:06:05 PM , Rating: 1
Why waste money taking out a target that proves no risk?

Those shoulder launched missiles aren't free, and even terrorists have a budget to some degree.

Finally, doesn't it make sense to use your missiles on the most high value targets? In a battlefield with other aircraft around, soldiers on the grounds, tanks, comm posts, etc...its not like there aren't other targets vying for attention...and you don't have an endless supply of missiles either.

RE: did i miss something
By Bruneauinfo on 5/28/2010 11:04:20 PM , Rating: 2
and for gods sakes it's 4 miles up!

RE: did i miss something
By quiksilvr on 5/27/2010 9:09:15 AM , Rating: 2

RE: did i miss something
By mcnabney on 5/26/2010 3:43:42 PM , Rating: 4
Well, it is four miles up in the air. It is also going to have almost zero IR signature. If you are already in command of the skies this thing should be able to operate quite well.

I wonder it they could mount a .50 gun onto the belly and just pick-off the Taliban one by one? Not a lot of 'bullet drop' to compensate for when you are shooting down on the target. The remote operator would just be given a mouse and the display and clickclickclickclick - just like an RTS.

RE: did i miss something
By Strunf on 5/26/2010 7:09:44 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe not bullet drop but it the taliban would have enough time to drink a coffee before the bullet reaches him!

RE: did i miss something
By Cypherdude1 on 5/26/2010 11:23:13 PM , Rating: 4
Well, it is four miles up in the air. It is also going to have almost zero IR signature.
Actually, that's 20,000 feet above sea level. There are many parts of Afghanistan which are 24,000 feet above sea level . This airship would not be able to climb high enough to pass over. If the Afghan terrain were only 15,000 feet above sea level, that would mean the airship is only 5,000 feet above the ground and well within range of even the lowly AK-47.

RE: did i miss something
By ekv on 5/27/2010 1:01:20 AM , Rating: 3
well within range...
Not to mention a Stinger (Block 2)

Probably a few of those still floating around. The latest (Block 2) variant has IR and UV ...

RE: did i miss something
By mindless1 on 5/27/2010 12:02:11 PM , Rating: 2
You don't need an IR signature to knock down a blimp, plain old radar would do fine and has nothing to do with "command of the skies".

Putting a gun on it would be ill advised, that would do little useful given it is so slow targets can move, and would move it from being a secondary priority target to a primary.

Also, if you feel a huge blimp can pick off a (small) person on the ground, why would you think ground troops couldn't hit the blimp long before it could hit them? Yes gravity is in the blimp's favor but it would require a 4th world nation to pop up, to find people who didn't have at least rockets/technology.

RE: did i miss something
By TimberJon on 5/27/2010 12:24:11 PM , Rating: 2
Putting a gun on it would be ill advised, that would do little useful given it is so slow targets can move, and would move it from being a secondary priority target to a primary.

what? This is what a targeting computer is for. The C130 can hit moving targets while it is at speed. Why couldnt a slower stable platform hit moving targets? That would require a less-powerful targeting computer as even wind speeds would be less that that which the TC has to calc on the C130's.

And a blimp with a hell of a high-powered scope could rip the spine out of a guy through a building from an elevation where the guy couldn't even hear or fire at the blimp. If the guy was out in the open, a Targeting computer would make short work of him while the guy cant fire back. Even a hardened veteran would break and run if it was raining bullets from miles up.

Here just read this:

RE: did i miss something
By FaaR on 5/27/2010 4:59:53 PM , Rating: 2
He means that while this gargantuan thing is lumbering from wherever from most likely well below the horizon at a whopping 80mph (probably less, as full throttle on that thing's likely to guzzle through the fuel supply like crazy), the target could get on a bike and get far away in the huge amount of time it's going to take this thing to get to the target zone.

The sky's BIG, you know?

A C130 is a regular aircraft, it's not comparable. It's in a wholly different league of performance.

RE: did i miss something
By kmmatney on 5/26/2010 6:26:22 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but its filled with green goo, to block any leaks.

RE: did i miss something
By iFX on 5/26/2010 6:43:17 PM , Rating: 2
With a few of these bad boys it should be fairly well protected.

RE: did i miss something
By iFX on 5/26/2010 6:43:24 PM , Rating: 2
With a few of these bad boys it should be fairly well protected.

RE: did i miss something
By Noya on 5/26/2010 9:19:09 PM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately, the Phalanx is about five tons too heavy for this airship.

RE: did i miss something
By FaaR on 5/27/2010 5:06:34 PM , Rating: 3
Bah! Too heavy you say?

Easy to fix! The US military simply orders (via a no-bids contract) the construction of a wheeled armored combat vehicle that carries the phalanxes + ammunition and follows precisely underneath this airship as protection... The price's calculated at only $200 million apiece, practically a bargain. The military then promptly orders 150 units on the spot.

RE: did i miss something
By muIIet on 5/26/2010 6:52:43 PM , Rating: 4
If you paint it the same color as the sky they can't see it, plus radar can't penetrate the micro fiber polyethylene polycarbonate substrate that is bow weaviled by small nano crutons.

RE: did i miss something
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/26/2010 9:37:36 PM , Rating: 2
Kevlar is the material. Did you not read this? The only thing I think that could take it out is Surface to Air missles, perhaps AA artillery or...other planes.

RE: did i miss something
By Howard on 5/26/2010 9:59:08 PM , Rating: 2
All you need to do is to part the mesh a little bit.

RE: did i miss something
By ZmaxDP on 5/26/2010 10:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
The Kevlar used in bullet proof vests is woven in overlapping patterns and either stitched together or bonded together using high strength rigid resins. For concealed (flexible) vests, the stitching is critical as a single ply of these fabrics tend to be easily penetrated. In high energy vests (rifles, assault rifles, etc...) the resin plays a critical role in making the kevlar bullet proof.

Since this is inflatable, they obviously aren't using a rigid high strength resin. They are using a flexible resin most likely formulated for air penetration, UV resistance, and high deformation durability characteristics.

The unique thing this has going for it in terms of bullet resistance is that the surface can deform significantly before puncture since it is a giant balloon.

Even with a high strength resin or stitching, 1/16" of Kevlar composite won't stop most small arms fire, much less a hunting rifle. You need a greater thickness and some additional composite layers to make a good bullet resistant panel.

Of course, as someone pointed out already, there aren't really any small arms that can reach the operation altitude of this thing, so it would only be vulnerable to this kind of fire at takeoff and landing.

Just wanted to point out that Kevlar does not equal bullet proof.

RE: did i miss something
By mindless1 on 5/27/2010 12:06:21 PM , Rating: 3
Actually no, there is no such "rule" that something called inflatable necessarily needs to have a deformable skin, because the *term* inflatable can be a generic reference to pumping it full of some gas lighter than air, for PR media purposes.

It doesn't need much unique to help it overcome bullets, providing it keeps altitude, gravity alone slows a bullet down. We could argue "but this bullet" or "that rocket" but the same is true of any target, if your enemy wants it bad enough they will find a way.

RE: did i miss something
By mindless1 on 5/27/2010 12:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
... but I'm not claiming it isn't deformable.

RE: did i miss something
By WinstonSmith on 5/27/2010 9:11:22 AM , Rating: 2
"maybe i missed something. But this would seem very vulnerable to attack. Forget the fact its a balloon. Its a big white stationary object in the sky."

Yes, you did. You haven't noticed that our enemies now consist of brown people in 3rd world countries with oil or land occupying potential oil or gas pipeline routes.

By MrBlastman on 5/26/2010 2:33:13 PM , Rating: 2
... but seriously...

as tall as a 23-story skyscraper.

I know plenty of beachfront condominium buildings that are 23 stories tall and they are hardly skyscrapers. Try adding about 50 more stories first before they are called that. :)

RE: Tall...
By marvdmartian on 5/26/2010 2:42:54 PM , Rating: 2
Might be a matter of objectivity then. In Dallas, they kept expanding outward, until they butted up against the surrounding towns (suburbs) who weren't willing to budge, before they started really building upward.

In a town with 5 and 10 story buildings, 23 stories would seem pretty high. ;)

RE: Tall...
By dgingeri on 5/26/2010 3:08:03 PM , Rating: 2
sounds like Denver. Our tallest building is 56 stories tall, but there are maybe 3 or 4 buildings in the 25-50 story range.

yeah, 23 stories is pretty tall, especially for something airborne.

RE: Tall...
By rikulus on 5/26/2010 3:59:28 PM , Rating: 5
I would definitely call 23 stories highrise, but I think it's a stretch to call it "skyscraper." Also, 235' would be pretty compact for a true 23 story building... 10' floor to floor is very tight for anything but residential use, ground floors are usually quite a lot taller, as would any mechanical floors, and roof screens for roof top equipment.

23 stories would be pretty tall for something airborne, if this airship were actually that tall. But it's 235' long... a standard 747-400 is 231' long in comparison. The Hindenberg was over 800' long!

RE: Tall...
By Spuke on 5/26/2010 4:53:55 PM , Rating: 4
I would definitely call 23 stories highrise, but I think it's a stretch to call it "skyscraper."
Leave it to DTers to micro-manage what buildings are called. LOL!

RE: Tall...
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 5/26/2010 4:52:46 PM , Rating: 2
I would say that depends on where you like... Chicago, New York or other similar cities, I would agree 23 not a skyscraper... but in many cities in Europe it would be.

RE: Tall...
By mmatis on 5/26/2010 7:13:25 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, they're talking about "Green" skyscrapers. With no elevators, 23 stories seems pretty dam tall.

RE: Tall...
By Camikazi on 5/26/2010 9:16:30 PM , Rating: 2
Talk about a cardio workout, would suck working on the 23rd floor and walking up and down everyday, but you would be fit :)

RE: Tall...
By Jjoshua2 on 5/27/2010 3:43:57 AM , Rating: 2
I think that's when you use a fireman's pole with a trampoline at the bottom. :)

RE: Tall...
By Chernobyl68 on 5/27/2010 12:03:48 PM , Rating: 2
I'm sure ADA requirements would ensure the installation of an elevator in a building over 1 story.

RE: Tall...
By Denithor on 5/27/2010 3:45:01 PM , Rating: 2
Including your two-story home?

Bullet, huh?
By chmilz on 5/26/2010 2:32:59 PM , Rating: 3
It's a bird! No, it's a plane! No, it's, it's... a giant floating tampon!

RE: Bullet, huh?
By Smartless on 5/26/2010 2:50:28 PM , Rating: 5
For those heavy flow days? See now why didn't they call that the IPad.

RE: Bullet, huh?
By SB79 on 5/26/2010 2:56:22 PM , Rating: 2
Brought to you by Preparation H

RE: Bullet, huh?
By MrBlastman on 5/26/2010 3:10:50 PM , Rating: 3
It kinda looks like a giant condom to me. They oughtta call it "Ultra Magnum, Extra Loaded."

Can you imagine the kind of mess that thing could make?

I can picture it now...
By wuZheng on 5/26/2010 2:51:03 PM , Rating: 5
Crewman: "RPG!!!"
Captain: "Evasive maneuvers!"
*Airship turns slowly*
Captain: "Ahhhh... fuck it."

RE: I can picture it now...
By Quadrillity on 5/26/2010 3:14:25 PM , Rating: 2
...which can be carried at altitudes of 20,000 feet (6,096 m)...

I think long rang SAMs are the only missiles to worry about. Funny monologue though! haha

RE: I can picture it now...
By afkrotch on 5/26/2010 9:19:28 PM , Rating: 2
Wait til the taliban get their own hot air balloons.

The first thing that popped into my mind, was the zepplins you could get in Red Alert 2. Then I started thinking of the GLA hot air ballon units you could get in the Generals.

RE: I can picture it now...
By AssBall on 5/26/2010 4:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think an expanded version of TROPHY would take care of them nicely.

Hydrogen or Helium
By drycrust3 on 5/26/2010 4:10:06 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe I just missed it, but did this article specify which of the two lightest gases will be used.
As I recall, Hydrogen is cheaper and easier to produce than Helium, which was why Hydrogen was used in the Hindenburg, the infamous airship that crashed in a ball of flames.

RE: Hydrogen or Helium
By JediJeb on 5/26/2010 5:18:23 PM , Rating: 5
Hydrogen can be used safely, and even the Mythbusters showed what many believed about the Hindenburg which is the aluminized coating on the skin is what caused the fire to spread so quickly. More or less the thing was painted with thermite.

RE: Hydrogen or Helium
By kmmatney on 5/26/2010 6:24:04 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry, but you either didn't see the Mythbusters episode, or are just guessing. In that episode, they found that ther Hydrogen was the main cause of the intense burning of the Hindenberg (or at least their prototypes).

A quick summary: The myth that the paint caused the intense burning was busted:

"Using the same compounds used in the Hindenburg's paint, the MythBusters discovered that they could combine to form highly incendiary thermite. However, the actual proportions of components in the paint burned too slowly to match the film footage of the Hindenburg disaster. A scale model of the Hindenburg using the same paint and placed in a hydrogen-rich environment took about a minute to burn and did look very similar to the original events. In the end, they concluded that the Hindenburg's demise could be attributed to both the hydrogen and the paint, and they agreed that the paint by itself was not responsible for the rapid burning of the airship. They also pointed out that if actual thermite covered the Hindenburg, it would make the airship too heavy to fly."

I saw the actual episode - you needed the hydrogen for the airship to burn. A helium filled balloon with the same paint didn't burn.

Thanks Obama!
By dgingeri on 5/26/2010 3:10:36 PM , Rating: 1
First, Obama takes us out of space by castrating NASA and killing any manned flights once the space shuttle gets retired. Now, we're going to go backwards to balloons in order to keep our communications systems operational. Yeah, nice "hope" and what wonderful "change". (that last sentence is sarcasm, in case you can't tell.)

RE: Thanks Obama!
By Amiga500 on 5/26/2010 3:31:35 PM , Rating: 2
The USAF have been looking into using airships for communications, AWACS replacement and as mirror/targeting stations for large ground based DEWs for over a decade.

Note - that is long before Barack Obama took office.

RE: Thanks Obama!
By xler8r on 5/26/2010 3:45:03 PM , Rating: 2
LIES! Remember, he wants us to go to an assteroid next.... lulz

RE: Thanks Obama!
By ekv on 5/27/2010 1:22:22 AM , Rating: 2
Balloons spend something like 30% of the energy a UAV takes to loiter over a target area. They can stay on station much longer. Not sure about payload capacity comparisons. Maintenance is surely a magnitude (or two) lower for the balloon.

Having said that, look at the service ceiling for the MQ-9
... 50,000 ft (granted, operational alt. is 25K).

I prefer Reapers 8) but the balloon definitely has a place in the arsenal, and it does kind of fit Obama.

10x the strength of steel
By nafhan on 5/26/2010 3:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
So, it's 1/16th of inch thick and 10x the strength of steel. That would mean it's as strong as 5/8th of an inch of steel... Obviously, that's enough to hold it together, but 5/8th of an inch of steel doesn't seem super reassuring.

RE: 10x the strength of steel
By Darkefire on 5/26/2010 5:35:47 PM , Rating: 2
5/8th of an inch of steel is nothing to scoff at, it would provide significant stopping power for most small-arms fire. Add in the fact that the Kevlar will be able to flex and absorb quite a bit of a bullet's impact (whereas steel wouldn't) and you've got a coating that should survive quite a bit of abuse. It wouldn't do much good against a SAM or an RPG, but then there's not much on the ground that could survive damage from those, either. Now if they could incorporate something like DARPA's Iron Curtain, that'd be seriously badass:

RE: 10x the strength of steel
By Cheesew1z69 on 5/26/2010 10:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
You know of any small-arms weapon that is capable of hitting a target 20,000 feet in the air?

AT&T are you listening?
By beachbum68 on 5/26/2010 4:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe AT&T could use these to improve their coverage? Mobile 3G over a city, better line of sight.

Maybe a microwave downlink/uplink for voice/data... or a fiber-optic teather. Just thinkin' out loud.

RE: AT&T are you listening?
By beachbum68 on 5/26/2010 4:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote: or a fiber-optic teather.

Sorry, I meant: fiber-optic tether.

RE: AT&T are you listening?
By mcnabney on 5/27/2010 11:26:50 AM , Rating: 2
You actually don't understand wireless.

A floating 'cell' would create a very large coverage area and should improve 'coverage'. However, they are operating using the same leased spectrum. That means that this floating 'cell' can still only handle as many calls / megabytes of data as a regular tower. In urban/suburban environments this would be very bad since the effective capacity per square mile would plummet.

Now this could work really well in rural areas, so AT&T might use it. Verizon won't need it since they bought 900mhz spectrum from coast to coast at the last big auction. That spectrum has enormous range and is ideal of rural areas.

Another SkyCat
By SoulBlighter on 5/26/2010 3:13:37 PM , Rating: 2
I wonder what happened to SkyCat 1000, as it was supposed to carry over 1000 Tons of cargo at cruising speed of over 1000mph. I really like to see this century old technology working which is cheaper for Air Freight.

RE: Another SkyCat
By SoulBlighter on 5/26/2010 3:15:51 PM , Rating: 2

My typo, correct cruising speed for SkyCat 1000 is 100mph.

cruising speed of over 1000mph

screw that
By Etern205 on 5/26/2010 3:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
I want what Capt. slow is flying

RE: screw that
2,000 pound carry capacity?
By Denithor on 5/27/2010 3:48:34 PM , Rating: 2
Really? Are you kidding? That's like next to nothing at all for freight. No way are these going to replace jumbo jets anytime soon with an anemic carry capacity like that.

RE: 2,000 pound carry capacity?
By FPP on 5/31/2010 1:55:20 PM , Rating: 2
What they are really good for is loitering time. Take one to a disaster, fit it with ceel phone relay tech and you cover a huge area, fast, with no setup time. Stick it over an area like N. Afghanistan and you have elint coverage over a huge area, constantly online, indefinitely. These have a use. a solar powered one, with hydrogen/ox fuel cells could stay up for weeks, or months, above the jet stream.

By bupkus on 5/26/2010 2:52:58 PM , Rating: 3
it could replace the Goodyear blimp and hover over stadiums and deliver huge spray-on LED advertising.

I would personally love to see it deliver condom ads. ;)

silver bullet
By vapore0n on 5/26/2010 4:00:46 PM , Rating: 3
E-Green Technologies now holds the worlds record for the biggest vibrator in the world

By xler8r on 5/26/2010 3:43:16 PM , Rating: 2
That would be really weird if our future turns out like that parallel reality on Fringe with all those blimps cruisin around :p

I wonder
By JediJeb on 5/26/2010 4:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
Could this be made to carry passengers? Not the fastest way to travel, but something like Amtrack or Greyhound and with a much better view.

By skyship007 on 5/26/2010 4:51:32 PM , Rating: 2
Hi folks,
It is a very long way in development terms from simply inflating a big blimp to proving it has a useful performance like the modern Skyship series and obtaining full public transport certification. The biggest blimp to fly in recent times was the Sentinel 1000 in 1994, which was developed from the Skyship series. Unfortunately a welder set the wooden hangar it was in on fire. If you want to see more on modern airships try or if you just want a helium sniffing laugh try the worlds only lighter than air comedy site.
Regards JB

Puncturing Kevlar
By TimberJon on 5/27/2010 12:05:19 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't such an impact be considered an elastic collision?
I don't know my math, but I do know design. I believe that kevlar has rip-stop properties and so a puncture in the baloon wouldn't grow. It would likely be hit from anywhere along its horizontal length within 55 degrees off bottom-centerline (port and starboard, so 110 degree arc facing down and up), as well as the potential exit point opposite that. A puncture with a maximum diameter of say.. 12" could be patched internally by having a mechanism release a kevlar-material with a silicone-ribbed surface at it's outer diameter, stretched along a circular fiber rod that when released.. expands it. Im thinking of those tents or cat kennels that you toss and they instantly pop open into a shape. The patch would only need to be folded up once perhaps, and would quickly reach the exit holes and potentially plug the hole until the pressure holds. Of course the ship would need a few dozen of these patches. Two for every potential hit. Operationally... there would be a limit as a patch kite can only patch another so many times, while the gas is being vented and rapidly re-pressurized. Reserves will run out before X amount of patches can be successfully placed.

In enemy airspace, I would also think about combat effectiveness. How long can it fire whatever. How many times can it patch itself to prolong its flight. And if the baloon finally fails catastrophically, will the carriage just fall on a large chute with the intention to preserve it and re-attatch to a new baloon? will it have a secondary bladder in storage and enough gas or hot-air-generation capability to quickly fill it and get aloft again for a second wind?
I would say get it in the air again, Or, keep it in the air. Jettison the balloon and other peripherals from the top of the carriage and have the sucker sprout wings so it can become a plane or glider. Have certain weapon systems available to it that are by default deactivated while the balloon is active. This also gives it a second wind and increases the combat effectiveness (and ROI). Not to mention the possibility of saving the pilots. You don't want them to 'chute down. You want to get them the heck out of the area. A glider/plane function can accomplish that

Now.. a naval gun with max grain sacks might be able to hit one of these... which there wouldn't really be a patch for. Missiles might be a problem. If they require the cone to be crushed to trigger, they it might not go off. But proximity or laser-ranged triggers will allow it to go off close to or at the airship. I don't know if the kevlar will be able to withstand an explosion. Maybe if there are vent systems that are able to react to a pressure increase and therefore aggressively decrease the internal pressure to help absorb the force of the blow. Fire retardant coating or outer shell? I will admit a fleet of blimps are far cheaper conventional craft. And you could make one hell of a gunship if you could make it a little bigger and stabilize it well.

Of course, all great ideas sound good on paper. Do-able? I think so. I don't think I listed anything too far-out.

Great Idea
By Mr Big MUGS on 6/2/2010 2:31:30 PM , Rating: 2
Fill up the cargo hold with 2000 pounds of chili and fly over the enemy and take huge dumps all over them till they surrender.

Food for thought
By stilltrying on 5/27/10, Rating: 0
"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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