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Airship Inflated To Create Monster "Stratellite"

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  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:12AM (#32336494) Homepage

    Is the pilot named Cid?

    • by Simonetta (207550)

      Is this an American pop culture reference somehow related to lighter-than-air atmospheric transport vehicles? If so, then how about a link for all the Slashdaughters who aren't plugged into American pop culture.

      For me, reference to lighter-than-air atmospheric vehicles always invokes a reference to Bruce Dern's portrayal of John McCain in the 1977 film "Black Sunday".
      In this film, Mr. Dern plays a tortured Vietnam Vet Navy Pilot P.O.W. who teams up with a beautiful Swiss-Palestinian female t

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @12:03PM (#32337236) Journal

        Is this an American pop culture reference

        Given that Cid is the recurring character name for the airship pilot/mechanic/engineer in the Final Fantasy games developed in Japan, the answer is "it depends on what you consider American".

  • Once again...thank you "press" for giving us useless measurements... is it's max speed measured in units of cheetah velocity, its volume measured in swimming pools and its weight measured in automobiles?
  • Units (Score:2, Funny)

    by codeButcher (223668)

    as long as a 23-floor skyscraper is tall

    How many football field lenghts would that be?

  • Huh? (Score:5, Informative)

    by shadow349 (1034412) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:18AM (#32336560)

    From TFS:

    stratospheric satellite, or 'stratellite,' according to its developers.

    From TFA:

    The airship is designed to carry payloads of up to 2,000 pounds (907 kg) at altitudes of 20,000 feet (6,096 m).

    From Wiki:

    The stratosphere is situated between about 10 km (6 miles) and 50 km (31 miles) altitude above the surface at moderate latitudes, while at the poles it starts at about 8 km (5 miles) altitude.

    Anyone else see the issue?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drumcat (1659893)
      Clearly he didn't measure in football fields.
    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sir_Lewk (967686) <sirlewk@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:28AM (#32336746)

      It's also clearly not a satellite, as it won't actually be in orbit.

      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        So, the 'stratellite' is not a satellite and it's not stratospheric.

        It'd have been about as correct to call it the Maguilla, for Magma Anguilla, and leave the readers to imagine why on hell would they call it that way.

        • by natehoy (1608657)

          I'm thinking "High Altitude Airship" would also be a good term, but it's actually descriptive and not at all clever like inventing a nonsense word composed of the amalgam of two perfectly good words, neither of which even accurately describe the subject.

          I think we'll just call it a "Magiragon", which is an mushing together of the words "Magical" and "Dragon". Two other words which do not at all describe this craft, but sound good to 12-year-olds when you smush them together into a single word.

        • by tompaulco (629533)
          It's like calling these things that are called SUVs an SUV when they are neither sporty nor utility.
    • It floats somewhere between here and the moon, in other words. ;)
    • by Spazmania (174582)

      You mean besides the fact that it only gets 2/3rds as high as a commercial airliner and commercial airliners don't get up in to the stratosphere?

    • "A Sanswire Stratellite(TM) is designed to operate at 65,000 feet"
      http://www.sanswiretao.com/ [sanswiretao.com]

  • by abbynormal brain (1637419) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:20AM (#32336596)

    The Great Big Suppository in the Sky

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:21AM (#32336624)

    Tokyo is so screwed!

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:25AM (#32336670)
    I remember the "Echo" satellites from the early 60's. their orbital times were even published in the newspapers and you could see them move through the night sky. I know you can see the ISS when it's around, but aren't these sorts of baloons rather old-hat now?
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      but aren't these sorts of baloons rather old-hat now?

      Balloons are cheaper and retrievable.
      Which means the payload can be repleaced on demand.
      Best of all, it will never end up as space junk.

      High altitude balloons (which this isn't) are the new satellite.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:27AM (#32336716)
    From the summary

    .. become the worlds largest airship..

    from TFA

    But even the modern record-holder for size dwindles in comparison to airships back in their heyday, such as the 804-foot (245 m) Hindenberg.

    There must be some strange use of the word "largest" that I don't understand

    • by OzPeter (195038)
      Replying to my own comment .. I just realized that both comments are in the same article. So I'l change my statement to be that there are some elements of journalism that I don't understand.
      • So I'l change my statement to be that there are some elements of journalism that I don't understand.

        Actually there seem to be elements of the english language you don't understand, specifically tense. Just because there used to be something larger doesn't mean this isn't the largest currently in existence. What you're confusing is "the largest" for "the largest that ever existed", or the record holder for the largest size. The article is correct. It just doesn't mean what you seem to have thought.

        • Just because there used to be something larger doesn't mean this isn't the largest currently in existence.

          No. However the facts do mean that. There are currently operational Zeppelins that re just a gnat's chuff longer.

      • by yotto (590067)

        They left out the word "ever" for a reason.

        Who's the tallest person in the world? Is it the person who is the tallest right now, or the tallest person who ever lived at any time in history?

      • by timeOday (582209)
        I was going to reply that although smaller, the higher-tech materials now available should result in a larger carrying capacity... but not so. The Hindenberg had a payload of 123.5 tons [aerospaceweb.org], whereas this new craft is limited to 1 measly ton. How can that be!?
    • by Jeng (926980)

      I guess they mean the "largest" that currently exists. Then again its not even close to complete so even that one is pre-mature.

    • Lets see if I can put it in perspective. Get out your tape measure and go measure the Hindenburg right now. Or any other larger one right now. The story didn't say it was the world largest airship EVER. It is only the largest airship available right now. (for certain narrow definitions of available)
      • by bkr1_2k (237627)

        Generally held usage of "world's largest" implies the title remains such until something larger comes along, not just until that particular thing is "retired".

        Semantics aside, the article is clearly wrong on several details that have already been pointed out.

        • by werfele (611119)

          Generally held usage of "world's largest" implies the title remains such until something larger comes along, not just until that particular thing is "retired".

          Quick, what's the world largest land animal? I'm pretty sure most people will say "elephant."

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      There must be some strange use of the word "largest" that I don't understand

      That's okay, lots of people don't understand context.

      Some even think not considering context is the only valid way to (mis-)understand things! So it could be worse.

  • by saurongt (1639029) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:27AM (#32336720)
    FTFA:

    "Our airships are radically different designs that move beyond the performance limitations of traditional blimps or zeppelins by combining advanced technology with simple construction and the ability to fuel with algae, protecting our environment"

    Fueling with algae protects the environment as much as buying a Prius. Alternative fuels do not protect the environment, they only reduce the damage slightly.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      Fueling with algae protects the environment as much as buying a Prius. Alternative fuels do not protect the environment, they only reduce the damage slightly.

      Unless it's poisonous algae and it somehow kills all humans.

      Or, in the case of the prius... If it's a... hmmm... Decepticon that came to Earth to kill us all!

      Ok, ok, I know. My theory makes no sense. The cars were the Autobots.

      • by jandrese (485)
        You know, a poisonous algae that killed all humans would be lauded as the savior of the environment by some.
        • by Thanshin (1188877)

          I just did so. Your comment makes me now think you disagree.

          I took it as a self evident truth. Kill puny hunams -> Environment is happy and can keep on with whatever it was doing before we started all that killing.

          • Environment is happy and can keep on with whatever it was doing before we started all that killing.

            What it was doing before we started all that killing was an extraordinary amount of killing.

      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        The cars were the Autobots.

        Huh?

        - Michael Bay

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Alternative fuels do not protect the environment, they only reduce the damage slightly.

      Depends how you define "damage". If you define it as "people shouldn't undo what nature has done" (ignoring for the moment that basically everything in nature undoes what something else in nature has done) then yeah it damages the environment. OTOH if you define it using a (more sensible IMHO) state-based system, then taking alternative fuel made from algae extracting CO2 from the atmosphere, and converting it back int

    • How does that work, I thought algae were carbon neutral, in that they don't put out more carbon than they sequester. On another note, how possible would it be to build an airship of some kind that keeps itself afloat via internal algae tanks or a coating of algae inside the balloon, needing only injections fo water and whatnot?
  • Monster (Score:4, Funny)

    by Propaganda13 (312548) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:33AM (#32336810)

    Am I the only one that started reading the title thinking they had made a giant airship that looked like Mothra only to be disappointed by the time I finished reading the title?

  • Helium or Hydrogen? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bmo (77928) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:36AM (#32336858)

    What I want to know is if we're going to waste expensive helium on this or inflate it with hydrogen?

    Weather balloons, hobbyist stratospheric balloons, etc, are usually filled with helium. But the only rationale for using helium is that it doesn't burn. It's more expensive than hydrogen. It's less efficient than hydrogen, and we only have so much helium left. We're not sending up people. There is no reason to use helium, really.

    It's time to get rid of the Hindenburg meme.

    --
    BMO

    • by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp@G m a i l.com> on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:47AM (#32337008) Homepage Journal

      "and we only have so much helium left"

      That's the bad news. The good news is actually two-sided [wired.com]. For one...

      For helium-3's true believers - the ones who think the isotope's fusion power will take us to the edge of our solar system and beyond - talk of the coming shortage is overblown: There's a huge, untapped supply right in our own backyard.

      "The moon is the El Dorado of helium-3," says Savage, and he's right: Every star, including our sun, emits helium constantly. Implanted in the lunar soil by the solar wind, the all-important gas can be found on the moon by the bucketful."

      So all of the helium we could need is on the moon, and if we can reach them, the gas giant planets. So the second part of the good news is that this gives us a real, economically viable reason to go back to the moon and stay this time... to actually build a base and commence helium mining and collection. And there's other resources on the moon waiting for us as well.

      • by NevarMore (248971)

        So we use the last of the helium on Earth to go to the Moon and get more helium so we can go back to Earth with more helium so we can go back to the Moon. Brilliant!

      • by Tekfactory (937086) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @12:20PM (#32337468) Homepage

        Helium-3 is not Helium like you put in Balloons, its the Isotope of Helium you put in Fusion Reactors and Medical Imaging technology.

        It is worth $46,500 per troy ounce.

        Hydrogen would be much less expensive for this application, and like others have stated if you don't paint the sides of the airship with rocket fuel, a rigid airship with segmented air bladders is pretty safe.

        Maybe we can even reopen the Blimp port on the top of the Empire State Building.

      • And there's other resources on the moon waiting for us as well.

        But probably not whales.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Well, depending on the actual risk of explosion and the cost of the balloon and its typical payloads, it might prove uneconomical to use hydrogen. The potential for human tragedy isn't the only consideration. However it's worth crunching the numbers on.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      the Hindenburg was a thermite fire, not a hydrogen fire
      • by mangu (126918) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @12:27PM (#32337544)

        the Hindenburg was a thermite fire, not a hydrogen fire

        You have been watching too much MacGyver [wikia.com]. Anybody who has ever worked with thermite knows how difficult it is to ignite.

        Even the Mythbusters have debunked that old bullshit about the Hindenburg paint. This story was funny once, it stopped being funny about the millionth time it was repeated on the internet.

    • by g8oz (144003)

      How about methane from cow farts/Taco Bell bathrooms?

    • by vlm (69642)

      and we only have so much helium left.

      We also "only have so much hydrogen left" since, with the exception of rounding errors, its all industrially produced by steam reforming natural gas, coal, oil, etc. You do the old fashioned "town gas" process, remove the yummy CO and unreacted N2 (and I suppose the one percent or so trace of Ar and friends) and whats left is .... H2. Oh there are some fine details besides that to steam reforming, but thats the basic idea.

      So you can fractionally distill He from natgas, probably powered by burning lots of

      • No need to start calculating here - He resources are severely limited, as not every natural gas reservoir is containing He in significant concentrations. The best source are still the gas wells in the southern US, though other producers have stepped up their yield lately. Helium will run out long before all gas wells run dry - at which point we still can produce hydrogen from electrolysis or thermolysis. Losing He as a lifting gas for lighter-than-air vehicles is a minor problem. I used to work with He-cool
      • by Sockatume (732728)

        You can also get hydrogen by hydrolysis fairly efficiently, which of course just shunts the energy renewability issue off someplace else, but means you don't have an issue with trying to maintain a supply of raw material. On an airship, hydrolysis could be a perk, because it'd give you a way to turn ballast into lifting gas plus breathing gas in an emergency situation.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by flink (18449)

        Elemental hydrogen is very easily gotten many different ways at various level of expense as it is one of the most abundant elements on the planet. Refining it from oil reserves isn't the only way. Electricity + H2O -> H2 + O is pretty well known.

        Elemental helium by contrast is relatively rare on Earth and is only got from natural gas deposits. The He in these deposits builds up over millennia as a consequence of beta decay of other radioactive elements. Additionally many refineries aren't equipped to

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by N0Man74 (1620447)

      The earth only has so much matter left!

  • by blankoboy (719577) on Tuesday May 25, 2010 @11:41AM (#32336920)
    If these huge airships become common place you can bet that it will not be long until we have 'airvertising' similar to what we saw in Bladerunner? I imagine a huge airship with a Geisha commercial plastered on one side.
  • "A huge inflatable vehicle as long as a 23-floor skyscraper is tall has become the world's largest airship in its bid to serve as a stratospheric satellite, or 'stratellite,' according to its developers."

    - it is a single sentence, one fucking sentence. How difficult is is to proofread one stinking sentence? I may make construct an unreadable sentence in my comments, I may make grammatical or syntax errors, but it is a comment, not a story on the front page.

    What the fuck is "as long as a 23-foot skyscraper is tall"?

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Oh, Christ, I am also blind, not a 23-foot, a 23-floor. OK. So HOW FUCKING TALL IS IT?

      Apparently it's the second paragraph of TFA:

      The 235-foot (72 m) long airship, known as the Bullet 580, has a top speed of 80 mph (129 km/h) and can serve as a high-flying sentinel that stays aloft for long periods of time.

      - so why couldn't this be the first sentence and the short description on /.?

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