Accession Number:

ADA437762

Title:

Technical Feasibility of Loitering Lighter-Than-Air Near-Space Maneuvering Vehicles

Descriptive Note:

Master's thesis

Corporate Author:

AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSONAFB OH DEPT OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:

2005-03-01

Pagination or Media Count:

98.0

Abstract:

The near-space region of earths atmosphere above 20 kilometers altitude is greatly underutilized. Lighter-than-air maneuvering vehicles, or airships, using the principle of buoyancy can take advantage of this region to become potential platforms for precision navigation, environmental monitoring, communication relays, missile warning, surveillance, and weapon delivery. These vehicles purportedly provide persistent coverage over large areas of the earths surface at substantially lower costs than orbiting satellites. This study investigated the technical requirements to loiter an operational payload within this high altitude region using a lighter-than-air maneuvering platform. A parametric analysis was conducted to identify the critical technologies needed to achieve operational payload, power, altitude, and stationkeeping requirements. The research concluded feasibility of stationkeeping a 1000 kg payload in lower near-space 20-25 km using current airship technologies. Solar powered electric propellers provided the best overall near-space loiter capability for missions beyond 30 days. Additional loiter capability can be attained for shorter missions using fuel cell technologies. Technology improvements in the airships drag coefficient, envelope fabric density, and payload mass and power requirements are required to attain altitudes beyond 25 km.

Subject Categories:

  • Lighter-than-air Aircraft

Distribution Statement:

APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE