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AirShips

Page history last edited by Charlene 9 years, 5 months ago Saved with comment

Exosphere: Others knew it too. Teresa's sharp eyes picked out sparkling glints which were aircraft - jets and the more common, whalelike zeppelins.

Lithosphere: "If we hurry we can make it to Drop Point by eight and catch the last zep into Butte"

 

Context

Lighter than air transport has the following points in favour in a society that is increasingly conscious of its impact on the environment:

  • no fuel wasted in staying aloft
  • no need for infrastructure (ie roads)
  • flexibility (ie not bound to infrastructure)
  • it avoids the contrails that have been found to be a significant contributor to greenhouse warming.

 

It has one large drawback; the lack of a convenient source of buoyancy:

  • hydrogen is too dangerous (remember the Hindenberg: actually this is a perceptual thing since hydrogen is OK so long as you isolate it from oxygen!)
  • helium is too expensive to make it attractive for mass transportation.

 

Status: Likely

 

Reality

70 years after the Hindenberg disaster, lighter than air transport is poised to make a comeback. Whether it becomes the transport of choice for medium-long haul journeys is moot.

 

A little speculation of mine own:

with hydrogen too dangerous, and helium too expensive, what else could be used to provide bouyancy?

(The answer is, of course, nothing at all!;-)

 

Update

  • Sep 27, 2006: Recent reports suggest that the conditions for a revival of airship travel are becoming more favorable. I think the status can remain at 'Unknown' for the moment, however.

 

References

  1. Aviation and Climate Change - Wikipedia
  2. Return of the Airship? - Jeremy Faludi
  3. Why We Need An X Prize for Eco-Friendly Air Travel - Alex Steffen

 

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