Igor Pasternak wants to be the first to harness helium for multi-ton deliveries. He envisions thousands of 500-foot-long zeppelins capable of traversing the U.S. at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, ferrying mining equipment to roadless stretches of Alaska and bringing organic strawberries to gourmet supermarkets in Manhattan, at a quarter the cost of a cargo plane.
The Aeroscraft could have a cargo capacity of as much as 250 tons, about three times that of the military’s C-17 transport plane. He wants to build a fleet of 24 ships, most of them large enough to transport 250 tons, and lease them to companies or governments. His estimate to build the fleet: $3 billion. He also has an design for 500 ton lift capacity.
So far, the U.S. Department of Defense has committed $60 million toward development of the Aeroscraft; that money runs out in August, leaving the company to seek private investment. A.P. Moeller-Maersk, which operates the world’s biggest cargo container line, is interested in using the technology for overland deliveries, but that doesn’t mean the company is willing to foot the bill for an initial fleet, says William Kenwell, a Maersk senior vice president.
A 140 meter long bridge was installed in less than 48 hours, in one piece, over a weekend. A bridge are made from glass fibre reinforced plastic (GRP). The composite bridge is said to weigh about 5% of the weight of traditional concrete bridge and 20% of a steel bridge with the same dimensions and loading capacity.
Four large Aeroscraft could provide 2000 tons of lift. The carbon fiber or glass fiber system could be used to create a large flat airfield.
It would probably make less sense to keep the airfield in the air but to transport an “instant” airfield to a forward location.
A flying airfield using four aeroscraft could be used for larger UAVs or for servicing other aircraft.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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