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News Link • Transportation: Air Travel

A Plan For Airships That Might Finally Take Off

•, By Josh Bearman
 "Some kids wanted to be firefighters,” Igor Pasternak says. “I always thought about blimps.” Pasternak grew up in Lviv, Ukraine, near a weather station. When he was six, he convinced the Soviet meteorologists there to let him launch one of their balloons. “I was hooked,” he says. “I wanted to build airships.”
We are standing in the vast wood-beamed hangar where one such vessel, a 400-foot-long “variable buoyancy functional cargo airship” called the Aeroscraft, is being assembled. The looming aluminum and carbon-fiber skeleton, not entirely unlike a half-completed Death Star, is the prototype for what Pasternak says will be a new and better kind of flying machine: one that can carry substantial cargo to any place on Earth. The reason there are so few blimps flying today, he says, is that “no one has improved the concept. I am solving a problem more than a century old.”
Pasternak is wearing a T-shirt that says Ballast Control Matters, which pretty much sums up that problem. “Blimps fly with buoyancy,” Pasternak says. “But when the blimp is empty, if you don’t hold it down, the ship flies into space. I realized we could compress the helium inside special chambers and give the ship more or less lift.”

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