Big, Green Blimp Coming to Moffett Field

There’s a long and storied history of blimps at Moffett Field – zeppelins, too. (Yes, there is a difference; more on that in a moment). The massive, iconic Hangar One, visible from U.S. 101 as you drive through Silicon Valley, was built for the USS Macon in the 1930s, and during World War II as many as 20 of the Navy’s LTA blimps, which patrolled the Pacific Coast, were based at the Mountain View, Calif., airfield.

Now comes the Bullet 580, from E Green Technologies (EGT). The company has entered into a three-year lease to base what it calls the world’s largest and greenest airship at the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field, NASA said in a press release. The 235-foot long, 65-foot diameter airship, “designed to fly on algae-based biofuel at speeds up to 74 mph,” is due to arrive in early 2011 from Alabama, after completing its third and final inflation and other engineering tests.

Bullet 580, E Green Technologies blimp

image via E Green Technologies

Moffett has been home for the past couple of years to the Eureka, a 246-foot zeppelin that Airship Ventures uses for sightseeing on the West coast. But the Bullet 580 is whole different airship. First, it’s a blimp, which, unlike a zeppelin, has no rigid structure inside its airbag. And, says John Youngbeck, EGT’s vice president of manufacturing: “Our airships … are radically different in design, enabling them to move beyond the performance limitations of traditional blimps by combining advanced technology with simple construction.” Indeed, whereas blimps typically fly about a mile up in the sky, the Bullet 580, with what the company says is space for added helium, can gain altitudes over 20,000 feet.

The Bullet 580’s first flight after coming west will be to carry a payload for the NASA Langley Research Center and Old Dominion University, who are working on a remote sensing instrument for measuring barometric pressure at sea.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Hi folks,
    This new E green blimp is very unlikely to be of interest to the US military who have already decided which airship companies to provide contracts and funding to. The biggest contract from the LEMV program went to Northrop Grumman and Hybrid Air Vehicles from England, who are building the HAV 304 for the US Army which will make its first flight next summer. Another hybrid air vehicle called the Skycat, designed for long range point to point cargo operations rather than medium altitude surveillance is also under development for the US military and civilian customers.
    If you want to see the latest news on hybrids or airships there is a list on http://www.hybridairship.net or if you just want a Helium sniffing laugh try http://www.hybridblimp.net for the worlds only lighter than air comedy web site.
    Regards JB

  • Joe Bloggs

    Hi folks,
    I love the smell of big blimps in the morning, it reminds me of, well, a new world record that is available for the first true circumnavigation by airship. If you like long trips with gas, see:
    http://www.blimpingaround.com
    You know, some day this whole airship game will be over, well it nearly is for the military, as they love the sound of very low fuel consumption German diesels in the morning, as it reminds them of, well the HAV 304 and Skycat series.
    Regards Joe