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IPFS News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Vacuum airship would work in thin atmosphere of Mars

• by Brian Wang

This concept is similar to a standard balloon, whereas a balloon uses helium or hydrogen to displace air and provide lift, a vacuum airship uses a rigid structure to maintain a vacuum to displace air and provide lift.

A vacuum airship made of a homogenous material cannot withstand the atmospheric pressure on Earth for any material humans have yet discovered, which can be proven using the critical buckling load of a sphere. However, from an initial analysis of the vacuum airship structure and relationship to atmospheric conditions, Mars appears to have an atmosphere in which the operation of a vacuum airship would not only be possible, but beneficial over a conventional balloon or dirigible. In addition, a multi-layer approach, in conjunction with a lattice, would circumvent the buckling problems of a single homogenous shell. The lattice used to support the two layers of the vacuum airship shell can be made, using modulation of the lengths of the members, to fit the curvature of the vacuum airship precisely by following an atlas approach to the modulation.