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JP Aerospace: Airships to Space

Ascender (NMSV 1.0) prototype in hanger. It will be flight tested soon.

At the recent Space Access ' 04 meeting in Phoenix, John Powell of JP Aerospace reviewed the many projects the organization is pursuing. These include rockets, high altitude balloons and airships, and high altitude platforms. He revealed that the primary goal is to develop an airship that could leave from a high altitude platform and, with the use of electric propulsion, reach orbit. (See the talk synopsis.)

John sent me a large number of pictures of their current projects and of artist renderings of their airship concepts. I don't have sufficient bandwith to post them all but below I show some reduced versions of frames from a simple animation showing how one would go from ground to orbit with their system. (See also images at JP Aerospace and scans of a handout distributed at the meeting posted at Michael Mealling's Space Access Pictures )


Airships to LEO

An Ascender airship lifts off and heads for the Dark Sky Station.

The station seen as the Ascender approaches


The Ascender docks at the station.


Passengers transfer to the Orbital Ascender.


Over several days the ion propulsion system accelerates the 6000ft (2000m) long Orbital Ascender...



...until it reaches LEO.




June 1, 2004 - Jeff Foust reviews the ATO program: Floating to space - The Space Review - June.1.04
May 28, 2004 - a posting on Slashdot about the orbital airship concept drew several hundred responses.
Blimps... In... Space... - Slashdot - May.25.04. Alfred Differ of JP Aerospace responded to some of the comments and questions: Alfred Differ - Slashdot User
May 23, 2004 - .Alan Boyle reports on JP Aerospace and the orbital airship proposal: Airship groomed for flight to edge of space - MSNBC - May.21.04
May 13, 2004 - Micheal Mealling posts John Powells slides in a pdf file: ATO - Airship To Orbit by JP Aerospace at SA'04 - Rocketforge - May.12.04 (It's also available at atohandout - JP Aerospace.)
May 2, 2004 - Alfred Differ gives some brief info on the propulsion system for the orbital airship concept in the comments section of this posting at Transterrestrial Musings
May 3, 2004 - See also LTA To Orbit? - Transterrestrial Musings - May.3.04

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