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March 15, 2009

High altitude spy blimps

The military wants high altitude "spy blimps" that will stay up for 10 years.

Q: Did anyone think about how they planned on dealing with high altitude winds,
which are often in the 100-200mph range?

My comments below the fold.

Obviously, tethering it is not practical, since the weight of a 12+ mile long tether cable strong enough to hold it in such winds would probably weigh more than the excess lift capacity of the vehicle, and any possible ground tether point becomes a very visible target for attack, which doesn't need to be attacked at 60,000', it can be attacked at ground level. Cut the tether, and your blimp drifts off into the stratosphere.

If the motors on it are powerful enough to overcome 100-200mph winds (blimps
have a LOT of aerodynamic drag), then its not likely that any generated solar power would be enough to keep it in place for very long either -- there is only so much available solar cell real estate on a blimp, even a large one. Of course, powerful electric motors are very heavy as well, further limiting lift capability.

Color me skeptical about this spy blimp notion. I have no doubt we can build blimps that can hit that altitude. I have no doubt we can fill'em with high tech spy shit. I have no doubt the thing can be covered with solar cells. I have a lot of doubt about its ability to stay on target in the planned environment.

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posted by Purp at 02:25 AM

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