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DynalifterAnother concept is the hybrid airship. These ships get a large portion of their lift from their wings and hull, so they can't be called airships. But they do solve typical airship problems involving takeoff, landing and ground operations.
The Ohio Airship's Dynalifter was subcontracted to defense contractors Conceptual Research Corporation, Analytical Methods and Composite Engineering. The companies have developed models from a 120-foot-long prototype (left) to a 990-foot freighter.
One of Howard Hughes' last projects was to work on the development of the cargo-carrying vessel called the Megalifter hybrid. These hybrid freighters could be a boon to the environment by taking thousands of trucks off the highway.
Aeros has planned a 850-foot-long luxury-liner airship, called Aeroscraft. A Rolls Royce engine will help it reach a speed of 152 knots, and the airship is expected to comfortably seat up to 200 passengers. Pilots will be able to shut off the engines to gracefully float past interesting sights.
The company Space Data operates a network of high-altitude, balloon-borne transceivers (below right) known as SkySite Platforms. The balloons, which serve as wireless towers, are launched every 8 to 12 hours to keep the network running. Each SkySite Platform rises to an altitude of 60,000 to 100,000 feet, from which it can cover an area 420 miles in diameter.