The modern airship: Solar Airship One

Human beings tend, in some circumstances, to be a little melancholic about the past. Especially when it comes to achieving sustainability, for a planet that cries out for it. Thus, we see the reappearance of sails on ships and the design of a modern airship in aviation, among others. With the new zeppelin, they seek to correct past mistakes and implement new technologies and materials to avoid accidents like the Hindenburg. This is how Solar Airship One was born.

modern airship
Hindenburg airship – 1937
Solar Airship One is the airship of the 21st century

The Euro Airship company is building a modern airship, the Solar Airship One. The design is large, however, it will not incur fuel costs. Its powerful engines will use solar energy and hydrogen. This will allow them to circumnavigate the world without resupplying. The project is to carry out a 40 thousand kilometer flight through Ecuador and for this they will not make any stopovers, nor will they use fossil fuels. With this they will achieve the great advantage of generating zero pollution.

The airship will fly at an altitude of 6,000 meters and will cross 25 countries on its journey. For its construction, they developed planning and research for 10 years. They implemented many innovations to remedy the fact that the construction of airships was discarded 90 years ago, with the Hindenburg disaster.

Design and construction of the modern airship

Precisely, Airship engineers thoroughly studied all the airships that appeared after the German explosion. Based on these results, they chose a rigid structure, which offers versatility in terms of transporting passengers, cargo or for military uses.

The airship, which will likely fly in 2026, is 151 meters long, with a helium expansion volume of 53,000 cubic meters. It will have 4,800 square meters of solar panels on its outer deck that generate energy for its engines and electricity on board.

Its operation is simple. During daylight hours it will operate with the solar energy it receives through the 4,800 m² of solar panels. During the night, surplus energy, stored in batteries, will produce hydrogen through the electrolysis of water.

The structure of the Solar Airship One is very robust to face external pressures and be able to regulate the interior temperature. For this, it has a double reinforced envelope. The ship will be able to face the most difficult weather conditions without problems. One advantage it has over conventional airplanes is that they cannot land or take flight in adverse climates.

To store helium, the Solar Airship One has 15 separate gas compartments, which are individually managed. This allows its maneuverability to be excellent and does not require special infrastructure on the ground to maneuver.

For the 20-day trip around the world, the company has three experienced pilots designated. Bertrand Piccard, pilot of the solar plane that flew around the world. Dorine Bourneton the world’s first female aerobatic pilot. And Michel Tognini, a veteran ESA astronaut.

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