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Thread: Space Blimp

  1. #1 Space Blimp 
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    (Thought experiment, try not to laugh)

    If we were to put a large blimp in earths orbit (lets say saucer shaped), could solar wind or what-ever pushes solar sails push the blimp to send it drifting away?

    If the aft skin was transparent, and the inner layer of the front skin was reflective, what would happen to the gas inside? (would it accumulate heat like a green house or behave in some manner that could push or provide energy?)

    Is the sunlight enough to heat the gas like a green house given the coldness of space all around the blimp?

    If the gas inside the blimp could be heated by sunlight, could that heat energy be directed or used in a way that propels/orients the blimp in a specific direction?

    Is there a gas that would be better than another, greenhouse gas, methane, neon gas, helium, etc to harness something, anything from the sunlight ?

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  3. #2  
    Comet Dust Collector Moderator
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    Mar 2011
    New Jersey, USA
    First of all, a blimp can't float above the atmosphere.

    2nd, assuming you could heat the gas inside up and vent it to provide thrust, once it's gone, it's gone, and you have no more thrust.

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  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman Physics's Avatar
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    Apr 2012
    I bet there could be a way to make it mechanical from below. We push a button to heat the gas and we push another button to let out a predetermined amount of gas. Like Meteor said, though, once the gas is gone, it's gone.
    1 2 3 - Physics is for me!
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  5. #4  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard icewendigo's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    My question was misunderstood, the intent was not to float into space from the ground up nor to use the gas by venting it (instead think of a solar sail but with greenhouse gas inside or some other gas), I will rephrase, what if a solar sail had gas in it?

    Lets say the components are launched into space to the ISS where they are assembled into a blimp, and the gas is compressed and launched into space where it is transferred into the blimp and heated with sunlight (maybe with a solar panel like deploy-able mirror array on the ISS? or power transfered from the ISS's solar panel)

    Once heated to gaseous state and filling a blimp where the skin facing the sun is transparent and the skin facing away from the sun is reflective on the inside.

    1- Is sunlight and the (presumed) greenhouse effect sufficient to heat the gas (more than the cooling effect of being in space)? (or would it loose heat faster than the sun+greenhouse can accumulate?)

    2- IF the craft can be designed to accumulate more heat energy from sunlight than it looses can this heat be channeled into directed energy that will propel the craft in a specific direction?
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  6. #5  
    Forum Bachelors Degree PetTastic's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    London UK
    I think a simple flat reflective sail would be more efficient.

    It would also be perforated by micro meteorites pretty quick.
    I believe in nothing, but trust gravity to hold me down and the electromagnetic force to stop me falling through
    Physics is the search for the best model not the truth, as only mythical beings know that.
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  7. #6  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
    New Zealand
    Inflatable structures in space is an idea that has been around for a while. It seems to have advantages, since such a structure can be packed into the delivery craft very compactly, and the whole thing would weigh a lot less than solid structures.

    Perhaps an inflatable, weightless hotel?

    Heating the gas is not really a problem. If reasonable insulation is in the outer layer of your structure, a small reactor or solar cells could provide sufficient energy.

    Propulsion will rely on the old stand by methods. A variation on rocket, solar sail, or gravity assist.
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