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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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