Feeds

Unmanned German sperm dirigible 'to fly within days'

Robo-airship's tail full of weightless Zeppelin fuel

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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). ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup
Key considerations when evaluating cloud backup solutions to ensure adequate protection security and availability of enterprise data.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Simplify SSL certificate management across the enterprise
Simple steps to take control of SSL across the enterprise, and recommendations for a management platform for full visibility and single-point of control for these Certificates.