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originally posted by: JohnSmith77
This is from exactly a week ago and I thought it was worth sharing for us airship enthusiasts.
NASA this week said it was considering a new Centennial Challenge: Build and airship capable of long duration flight for scientific missions.
NASA is holding an Airship design and construct competition.
Here are the requirements.
Reach a minimum altitude of 20 km.
• Maintain the altitude for 20 hours (200 hours for Tier 2 competition)
• Remain within a 20 km diameter station area (and navigate between two designated points for Tier 2)
• Successfully return the 20 kg payload (200 kg for Tier 2 competition) and payload data.
• Show Airship scalability for longer duration flights with larger payloads through a scalability review.
Award 1-- A proposed $1.0M will be split between teams successfully completing Tier 1 within 3 years of the challenge initiation. A possible scenario for splitting the Tier 1 prize money is 4 prizes of $500k, $250k, $125k and $125k, starting from the first to demonstrate to the fourth.
Award 2: A proposed $1.5M will be awarded to the first successful demonstration of Tier 2 within four years of challenge initiation.
So it is basically a high altitude airship competition, not for designing a regular airship. Here is what a HA Airship looks like -
Source: High Altitude Airship
NASA gave out this request to find out if there is enough interest in such a competition, and to further develop rules for the competition.
"The Centennial Challenges Program is NASA's flagship program for technology prize competitions (www.nasa.gov/challenges). The program is an integral part of NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing, and flying hardware for use in NASA's future missions." - NASA
So they looking for interest for it. I hope it will take off. It's probably interesting for universities. The reward seems very good.
I wish NASA had a bigger budget so they could stimulate more projects like these, which stimulate innovation and scientific progress overall. The biggest challenge to me would be reaching the altitude of 20 kilometers, staying there for 20 hours and then coming back.
originally posted by: stormcell
Reaching the altitude of 20 km (20,000 meters) is easy. That has been done with weather balloons and GoPro cameras. You could create a large frame with hundreds of weather balloons arranged in a hexagonal mesh pattern. The hard part is keeping that altitude constant. Easy enough to get a barometer, but then you need to drop ballast to rise, or deflate balloons to fall.
Then you would need stabilizing / propulsion system to move around as well as GPS.