Re: Technology: Rigid Airship

From: Ken Clements (
Date: Wed Apr 12 2000 - 17:08:44 MDT

"Michael S. Lorrey" wrote:

> Read a bit of your old post there Ken. What about making it more like a buoy or an oil
> derrick. have your sky hook be tall and narrow, and constructed of lots of nanotubes
> that act similarly to the cappillary channels in tree trunks. At the bottom are your
> bilge vesicles that pump out infallen gasses that have migrated down from the top...

When I was thinking about the "Ships of the Sky" concept, I was thinking of pre-nanotech,
and I wanted something that was mostly above the layers where wind force added to material
strength needs. You are correct that it could be tethered by some "cord" that had He
chambers along its length, through which material was delivered by elevator, and bilge
pumped out.

When you have nanotubes you can grow to order, there is almost no limit to what you can
do. You will be able to generate your own designer aerogel like materials that are
permanently buoyant at low altitudes (upsidaisium). As you suggest by analogy to the oil
derricks, very large buildings will be possible that go to high altitudes maintaining
neutral buoyancy as they go up.

The problem with the current pre-nanotech period of time is that technical efforts (even
if successful) yield results that are wiped out by the next advance so soon, that for much
of what you could do, you are best off just enjoying the idea, unless it is a step to get
to nanotech. If I wanted to build a ridged air ship now, I would start with silicon
wafers and grow about 2 microns of CVD diamond on them. Then I would pattern and etch
most of the wafer away leaving a fractal beam mesh that supports the diamond and
terminates at a hexagonal frame. With enough of these, (and a few pentagons) I can oxide
bond them into a close approximation of a sphere. Part of the wafer design also includes
photovoltaic devices so that the sphere provides electric power to a small attached robot
and vacuum pump. To go up, the robot pumps out enough air to displace the weight of the
craft (but not enough to crush it), and to go down, it lets air in. As it gets higher,
pressure decreases, so it can pump out more air without getting crushed. At some point,
it has pumped out all the air it can, and that is as far as it can go, but it could stay
there as long as it was not damaged (possible com relay station).

Cool, but I would rather spend my time developing nano.


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