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October 05, 2010

Airlifter for longer duration heavy lift

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An Australian company is developing the Airlifter, a giant balloon, that will one day be capable of carrying 150 tons payloads at up to 83 km per hour for over 24 hours of flying time. The inventors hope the balloons will be able to carry disaster relief centers and even modular hospitals into remote areas. The SkyLifter balloon is a discus shape (150 meters (500 ft) in diameter and is driven by specially-designed propellers in a control pod suspended from the helium-filled aerostat balloon space.


* normal range of operation at least 2000km (120 miles with no wind)
* Able to withstand storm conditions whilst moored under gusting winds of 80knots (148 km/h)
* Positions for 2 pilots, although single pilot operable
* Able to operate in confined spaces (minimum circle 3x SkyLifter diameter)
* Able to takeoff and land at its operational site without complex ground infrastructure
* Able to transit directly without external assistance
* The SkyLifter is currently at prototype stage, and the company has already produced an 18 meter (60 ft) version, named Vikki, without an engine, and a fully-functional three meter prototype nicknamed Betty, which can carry a payload of 0.5 kg (around 1 lb). Prototypes 23 meters (Nikki) and 150 meters (Lucy) in diameter should be launched within the next three years.
* Later a SkyPalace version may be considered for luxury air cruising


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