Feeds

Unmanned German sperm dirigible 'to fly within days'

Robo-airship's tail full of weightless Zeppelin fuel

High performance access to file storage

A German-American venture says it is now days from the maiden flight of its 111-foot long, tadpole-esque "segmented" drone airship.

The STS-111 "Stratellite", produced by Sanswire of Florida and TAO Technologies GmbH of Stuttgart, has now been assembled at the firm's German test centre. According to a Sanswire-TAO announcement issued yesterday, "the first flight of the full scale STS-111 is expected to take place at the end of August". The test vid above shows a smaller prototype.

The robotic ship uses a cunning technique from the lost golden age of dirigible airships to deal with the knotty issue of buoyancy control. Only the "head" compartment of the bendy airship actually contains helium for buoyancy. The remaining "tail" cells contain the fuel for the craft's engine, in the form of "Fuelgas" mixed to have the same density as air. Thus, as fuel is burned the buoyancy of the ship is unaffected and there's no need to vent off expensive helium.

The company describes this as the "unique weightless Fuelgas system", but in fact it isn't unique. The famous Graf Zeppelin airship liner of the 1930s ran on "Blaugas" for the same reasons, filling up to a quarter of her mighty hull with the gaseous neutrally buoyant fuel.

The STS-111 is an interim, medium altitude ship intended as a stepping stone towards a more capable stratospheric craft to follow. This would lurk for long periods in the "wind bucket" found between 65 and 70,000 feet, so as to avoid being blown off station. It would serve as a communications relay platform, aiming to compete with satellites (hence the "stratellite" name). ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.