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IAA is planning: an airship the size of a football field that will be a replacement for satellites

The IAA airship. It will be powered by a solar electric motor, will be placed at an altitude of 21 km and will be used for civilian and military applications, including: communication relay, border control, monitoring of infections and the weather. You can stay in the air for 3 years and return to the ground for repairs

The Americans rubbed their eyes in amusement when the Israelis showed them the blueprints. After digesting what they saw in the presentation prepared for them, they said: "We have never seen anything like this." This is how everyone who has been exposed to the plans of the Aerospace Industry (TAA) to develop an airship that will be placed at one specific point in the sky - at an altitude of 21 km - and transmit to the ground images of targets and objects that will be in a circle ("ground tracking") that is 1,000 km in diameter has reacted thus far and more. The ship, with a diameter of about 200 meters and a width of 60 meters, will be powered by solar energy only.

According to Avi Ideem, the director of the research and development (R&D) department of the "Melam" factory of the TEA, engineer Avi Baum, "This will be a ship that is bigger than a football field. There is nothing like it in the world. The quality of the photographs that the ship will transmit through the telescopic cameras on board will be at a maximum separation level. The pictures will show the numbers that are written on the identification plates of cars." According to the calculations, the prototype of the ship will be ready for operational flight in about four years.

The airship, which can carry a variety of dedicated payloads (spacecraft), will be used for a variety of civilian and military applications. It will be used as a communication relay (between aircraft, planes, satellites, land and sea systems), for intelligence applications, observations and border control and for civil applications. For example, it will transmit wideband communications to the Internet, television, radio, and air, sea, and ground traffic control. It will also monitor air pollution and can track the weather.

The idea to develop a large airship was born at the Melam factory in the mid-90s. "It was the brilliance of a team of engineers. We discovered that there is a space between the air and the space outside the atmosphere where no planes, no unmanned aircraft, and no satellites fly, and we thought about how we could develop tools that would fly in this space at lower costs than satellites," Baum explains. Melam engineers were not the first to develop airships, but they decided to face a technological challenge that had not been solved until now: how to give the airship the capability of a geostationary satellite - the airship would be placed at a certain point and fixed at a high altitude, and would serve as an "observation tower" over a sector given

Unlike satellites, which move around the earth, and return to fly over the same point hours or days later, the ship will be in one place and provide information continuously. She will be able to stay in the air for three consecutive years. According to a directive from the ground, the ship will be able to change its position in the air and function as an unmanned aircraft. Unlike satellites, the ship will be able to return to the ground for maintenance purposes.

The ship has a large rear propeller driven and controlled by an electric motor. To provide the ship with continuous energy, the back of the ship will be covered with solar cells that will convert sunlight energy into electricity. The energy collected during the day is partly stored in cyclic fuel cells (RFC's) for consumption at night.
Possibility of cooperation with "Lockheed Martin"

The airship gets its lift from buoyancy and not from aerodynamic lift - as in normal aircraft - so its size is a key element. The ship will be divided into two compartments: one compartment will be filled with air and the other with helium. While on the ground, most of the ship's volume will be filled with air and the helium will be in a compressed state, to prevent the ship, which is heavier than air, from rising. For the purpose of takeoff, air will be released and at the same time the volume of the helium cell will increase.

"It's a process similar to the process that happens in a submarine," says Baum. "To dive, water is pumped into special compartments in the lining, and to rise above the water, the water is pumped out." The release of air continues until the ship reaches the intended height - then the volume of the helium chamber is about 99% of the ship's volume. The ascent to a height of 21 km takes about half a day. Back on the ground, the opposite is done: the air chamber is filled with air from the environment, the ship becomes heavy and lands in a controlled manner.

The decision to set the flight height to 21 km above the ground was made after an examination of the wind speed profile at these heights. It turned out that at this height, the speed of the winds is minimal, and thus it will be possible to "fix" the ship in the desired place despite its size or to move it from place to place, even if against the wind.

The hull of the ship is made of a special multi-layered fabric, designed to give it resistance to harsh environmental conditions (temperature of 57 degrees Celsius below zero), high impermeability to prevent helium leakage and minimal weight.
Advertisement With the completion of the feasibility study, the TAA is faced with the main challenge - finding financial sources to translate the idea into a prototype. "It is estimated that the development cost of the airship is 150-100 million dollars," says Baum, "Together with Yair Ramati, CEO of Melam, Yoram Shimoni, head of the marketing administration, and Israel Schnitzer, the development engineer, and with the assistance of officials in the defense system, we are trying To reach a bi-national cooperation for the financing and development of the project. At the same time, we will examine cooperation with industrial parties, including investors from the civil sector to civil applications."

It turns out that the American fighter aircraft manufacturer "Lockheed Martin" is also developing a similar idea for the production of an airship. The Israeli idea was presented to the company's representatives, and one of the thoughts is that the two companies will jointly develop the Israeli airship.
 Amnon Barzilai, Haaretz, Walla News

2 תגובות

  1. What about the airship today? A flower crow?
    Such a ship can provide cellular communication to areas with few users and poor reception such as the Negev and Golan regions, will save high costs of satellite photography, communication and more, but still the idea probably remains only on paper

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