The Bullet 580, a helium-filled tanker, can carry 1,000 pounds of payloads up to 20,000 feet above Earth.
- A new giant airship can fly instruments to high altitudes and remote locations.
- The Bullet 580 can move heavy equipment to a remote location, or serve as an eye-in-the-sky.
- It is expected to be inflated for the first time later this month.
After a 100-year dry spell in technological innovation, a pioneering inflatable airship is about to debut, promising an aerial experience for science experiments, as well as a sky-based platform to relay communications and to keep watch on oil spills, forest fires or even pirates at sea.
The 235-foot airship, called the Bullet 580, also could be used to transport heavy equipment to remote locations.
"We're kind of like a truck in the sky that can have different types of payloads for different requirements," Mike Lawson, chief executive of Alabama-based E-Green Technologies, told Discovery News.
E-Green acquired airship builder 21st Century Airships, which holds patents for Bullet 580 technologies and designs, including a system of bags that hold helium for lighter-than-air lift and an inner hull that is filled with ambient air.
"The bags expand as we go up in altitude," said Lawson. "If you hit a hard landing with any of our airships, it's just going to kind of bounce.