SolarShip, the Solar-Powered, Helium-Filled Cargo Plane That Floats

The SolarShip is a helium-filled airplane that resembles a balloon, and is powered by electrically driven propellers whose power is collected from the Sun. This sort of aircraft doesn’t fit into any existing category, it is its own category. A picture may help:

Essentially it’s a blimp/balloon, filled with helium, and it has wings and a propeller. The wing surface has solar panels, which charge a battery pack.

The SolarShip is envisioned for use in remote areas like Africa. The tag-line is “no roads no fuel” which describes some parts of Africa.

The SolarShip gets its lift both from the helium, and aerodynamics. The wing design allows very short take-off and landing (VSTOL) operation.

Solar Ship is a buoyantly assisted aircraft, possible through a confluence of modern developments. Advanced aerodynamics, synthetic textile laminates, smart electronics, lightweight batteries, and high-efficiency photovoltaics are the enabling technologies that now allow us to realize the vision of a practical solar aircraft.

By combining hybrid aerospace design with advanced propulsion, Solar Ship carries a truck’s payload, with greater flexibility than an airplane, with unrivaled efficiency. The design also scales well, with a payload that grows cubically as its size increases.

About David Herron

David Herron is a writer and software engineer living in Silicon Valley. He primarily writes about electric vehicles, clean energy systems, climate change, peak oil and related issues. When not writing he indulges in software projects and is sometimes employed as a software engineer. David has written for sites like PlugInCars and TorqueNews, and worked for companies like Sun Microsystems and Yahoo.

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