Helen Knight – The world’s largest airship will take to the skies early next year, powered by biofuel produced by algae.
The Bullet 580 airship, which is 72 metres long and 20 metres wide, will take off from its future home at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, carrying remote monitoring equipment designed to help forecast tropical storms and hurricanes.
Developed by E Green Technologies, based in Kellyton, Alabama, and 21st Century Airships, in Newmarket, Canada, the airship is designed to transport heavy equipment to remote locations, carry remote monitoring equipment to high altitudes, or act as a communications hub or surveillance platform.
The Bullet 580 is capable of flying at speeds of up to 120 kilometres per hour, and reaching altitudes of 20,000 feet. Initially flown by pilot, the airship will ultimately be used as an unmanned vehicle.
Helium held within a system of bags is used to give the airship its lighter-than-air lift, while the inner hull is filled with ambient air. The blimp’s outer shell is made from Kevlar.
On its first flight from its new base, planned for the first few months of next year, the blimp will carry the Radar Oxygen Barometric Sensor, an instrument developed by researchers at NASA Langley Research Centre in Hampton, Virginia and Old Dominion University in Norfolk, which will measure barometric pressure at sea level.