High tech/low tech commo sat (fwd)

Got this from a friend on another list. Very cool technology! :-)


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From: martin_scanlon at yahoo dot com (Martin T. Scanlon)
Subject: High tech/low tech commo sat
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 19:45:18 +0000 (UTC)
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Check out this BBC article from 27 FEB:

By BBC News Online's Alfred Hermida  
Airships could provide a cheap and quick way of
bringing mobile phone networks and fast internet
connections to remote parts of the world. 
Engineers at Britain's Advanced Technologies
Group (ATG) are working on developing airships
that could provide the telecoms networks of the

Their StratSat programme applies modern
technology advances to the old principles of
airships to offer what they believe is a cheap
and flexible alternative to unsightly mobile
phone masts across the countryside. 

"It's bringing airships out of the thing that you
see over sports stadium just doing a bit of
camera work or advertising and making them part
of the 21st Century and data communication," Mike
Durham, senior technical consultant at ATG. 

State of the art balloons 

ATG is based at giant purpose-built hangars at
Cardington, Bedford, a site historically
associated with British airship production. 

Airships developed in huge hangars
The company is due to launch its airship
prototype in 2003. 

The balloon is designed to rise into the
stratosphere to a height of 12 kilometres (60,000
feet), out of the way of passenger planes. 

On board, the airship will carry state of the art
technology such as transponders for mobile
telephone, television, digital radio, internet
and surveillance services. 

Powered by solar cells and a back-up diesel
engine, the balloon is designed to stay in
position for five years. 

"The vehicle is designed to be autonomous," Mr
Durham told the BBC programme Go Digital. 

"It flies itself to a geostationary position for
the whole of its life, but it is downlinking data
about whether it's got any problems to a ground
control station and the people on the ground can
take remedial action." 

Safe technology 

ATG believes its airship programme provides a
low-cost alternative to the conventional telecoms

StratSat facts  
Length: 200m (656ft) 
Payload: Up to 1,000kg 
Maximum altitude: 20km (65,000ft) 
Endurance: 5 years on station  
But for many, talk of airships will bring images
of the Hindenburg disaster more than 60 years
ago. [Which is ignorance to the point of
absurdity: Helium, unlike hydrogen, does not
explode. -- M.]

ATG insists its helium-filled balloons are not
only cost-effective, but also safe. 

"The way airships have moved forward over the
past 30 years has been quite dramatic," said Mr

"We came out of the 60s with wicker basket-type
technology. We started to get into modern
technology and that is where this company came


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