Aeroscraft shows off its giant airship

by
in space on (#Q6XQ)
Lighter than air vehicles are, for the most part, relics of a distant past. Despite the past century of flight mostly belonging to airplanes and helicopters, there’s been a slight resurgence of dirigibles this century. Not least among them is the Dragon Dream, by the Aeroscraft Corporation. This is only half the size of their planned airship...

Rather than the slow-moving luxury cruisers of old, the Aeroscraft is a working vehicle designed to carry 66 tons of cargo reliably to parts of the world without runways. The 555-foot-long craft is at a design freeze. Aeroscraft thinks they have the vehicle they want, and to meet deadlines on time, they’re going to stop tinkering with the design and just make the dang thing.

The Aeroscraft is just one of a small new world of gigantic lumbering dirigibles. In 2013, the U.S. Army canceled its LEMV surveillance zeppelin, but the project has since been revived in the United Kingdom as a working machine, and Goodyear is looking at replacing its soft-bodied blimps with more durable rigid airframes.

Re: Could you use hydrogen for permanent-installation balloons? (Score: 3, Informative)

by fnj@pipedot.org on 2015-10-13 23:09 (#QD37)

If Hindenburg were filled with natural gas instead of hydrogen, she couldn't have lifted her empty weight off the ground with zero payload and fuel. The following figures are based on very favorable conditions for static lift. More realistic conditions (say 15-25 C, and just 300 m MSL initial cruise altitude) would lower them significantly

Gas capacity = 202 000 m^3
Air density at 0 C, 101 325 Pa = 1.292 kg/m^3
Hydrogen density at 0 C, 101 325 Pa = 0.090 kg/m^3
Hydrogen lift at 0 C, 101 325 Pa = 1.292 - 0.090 = 1.202 kg/m^3
Gross lift 100% filled with hydrogen = 202 000 x 1.202 = 242 800 kg
Methane density at 0 C, 101 325 Pa = 0.716 kg/m^3
Methane lift at 0 C, 101 325 Pa = 1.292 - 0.716 = 0.559 kg
Gross lift 100% filled with methane = 202 000 x 0.559 = 112 900 kg
Weight empty = 118 000 kg

If she had been designed from the ground up for methane, restressed for the lower weights, de-engined for a slower speed (less aerodynamic stress) and carrying fewer passengers, it probably would have been possible to get a ship capable of lifting perhaps (optimistically) 1/4 as much useful lift. Still-air range would have been around 2000 km instead of 12 000 km (usable range with reserves considerably less).
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