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.
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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