Recently I have asked a question about assessing the viability of airships in the scenario of my world, concentrating mainly on their usage as cargo haulers. The answers have been pretty positive and as such I'll explore other applications that came to mind in the aftermath.
I'd really appreciate if you could provide feedback about their feasibility.
- Military: I was thinking that such airships could function as airborne aircraft carriers, designed to allow docking of smaller VTOL aircraft, providing maintenance, fueling and support along with amenities for the pilots. Another application for the military could consist in functioning as movable command centers and forward bases (logistics, armories, support), making fixed outposts mainly redundant unless they were to support the ships themselves.
- Passenger: I have also been considering how they could be employed for the transportation of civilians across the planet. Even though I figured that planes would remain dominant in this field (given that they would still humiliate ariships when it comes to speed) I'd think that airships employed in this sector would essentially serve as the analogues of cruise-ships, providing extremely comfortable travel conditions (compared with the planes) and leisurly activities to be enjoyed in the clouds. Another application for passenger airships would be for disaster evac/relief, allowing to expedited extraction of civilians from areas afflicted by earthquakes and volcanoes (which would be quite widespread on my world)
- Scientific: Some aerostats could serve as research vessels/outposts across the different layers of the atmosphere. They could be used for the studying and monitoring of the atmospheric composition and dynamics (weather patterns especially). Not to mention other avenues of research related to engineering, physics and biology at high altitudes. They also could serve as advanced data centers for big data applications.
- Geoengineering: I figured that the civilization responsible for these crafts would be capable of practical geoengineering, so I figured that there could be aerostats designed to manipulate the atmosmpheric composition and dynamics through the use of chemicals and other means.
- Habitation: This would be the most advanced application of the airship technology available in my world, the creation of settlements in the very skies of the planet, each capable of supporting the population equivalent of a small town (about a few thousand inhabitants per settlement, pheraps even more by clustering more cities togeter in a sort of flock), semi-independently from the surface. Of course they'd still rely on ground station for things like supplies and aspects of infrastructures that would require massive facilities (waste disposal would be the worst offender coming to mind), but through the use of advanced storage and recycling system I figured that they'd be capable of independent function for extended periods and even move across the world by taking advantage of the jet streams. I feel also like I should expand on the concept a little bit more, the idea is that they'd be conceived by the world's elites to serve as safe havens for them, keeping them away from the surface's pollution and the dangers posed by the volcanoes and earthquakes. The idea stemmed mainly from the proposals to colonize venus by building areostat-colonies and deploying them in the high atmosphere where the conditions are similar to earth's. Another reference to an already existing concept would be the Cloud 9 spheres. Admittedly this connects to a previous question of mine, but I believe that here more important information is supplied.
Here is some information about the planet or rather gas giant moon:
- Surface gravity: 0.9 G
- Atmospheric surface pressure: 1.5 atm
- Composition: 70% Nitrogen, 24% Oxygen, 1% Carbon dioxide, 5% other gases (adjusted for habitability the other gases are mainly noble gases)
- Would be rather thick and dense, not sure how to quantify that with any precision though
- Very geologically active due to tidal effects from the gas giant (comparing it grossly with Japan, though I am still looking into that)
About the airships here is some specs:
- Materials: Ultralightweight materials such as carbon fiber, graphene and carbon nanotubes are employed in construction as well as other ultralight alloys made possible by an advanced science. They'd also rely on the use of advanced nanotechnology.
- Power source: Advanced nuclear reactor(s) based on post 4th generation technology for increased efficiency, built with a modular design to easily exchange the fuel. May consider usage of nuclear fusion if there would be feasible ways to miniaturize and lighten the infrastructure needed to generate nuclear fusion. (Could helium-3 be a game changer?) Solar and wind energy are used as well in combination with the reactor or on their own for designs requiring less lifting.
- Bouyancy: Guaranteed by bladders inflated with helium for safety reasons and due to being relatively easy to come by in this setting and to this civilization.
- Propulsion/lift: Electric jet engines combined with ducted propellers for directional movement and lift contribution/stabilization akin to a VTOL.
- Hybridization: Overall the airships would have a hybrid design, in which the bouyancy supplied by the gas is combined with aerodynamics and engine-generated lift to remain airborne and move around, both in the dynastat and rotastat variants depending on applications.
Do you think that these uses for advanced airship technology are plausible in my world?
Here is a link to an artstation gallery with more concept arts for the Venus floating settlements by Sergio Botero: https://www.artstation.com/artwork/3AdQJ