LS-LT18 and LS-LT15-V1
These LTA types are low-captured (tethered) lenticular aerostats, designed with a multiple line restraint system that allows them to rise under control from the ground to a maximum height of say 20 m for light-show display and projection purposes as braced static overhead aerial screens (providing an attraction at events). They thus may be seen from afar and viewed from the ground, but are recovered to ground level when not in use for safe keeping.
The aerostats have a 2 chamber arrangement comprising:
- an outer torus tube (like a bicycle wheel inner tube) that is pressure stabilised as a stiff chassis member and
- an inner main compartment bounded by upper and lower dishes affixed at tangential positions to the torus each side.
The main chamber isn’t pressurised, where its lower dish freely flexes up or down to accommodate contained gas volume changes.
As non-rigid fabric structures, the aerostats are partially helium inflated and then air is used to complete the inflation process and to pressurise the torus – enabling them to maintain form for displacement purposes and thus develop excess buoyancy countering their weight. Excess buoyancy also keeps them aloft and imparts sufficient tension into their multiple restraint lines, preventing them from slackening against aerodynamic wind loads.
Projection onto the aerostat’s lower surface (an essentially large flat disk area) is best undertaken with systems on the ground. However, the projectors also can be carried by the aerostat if desired, but needs additional expensive helium, complexity and safety aspects to be covered (increasing cost). Naturally, the aerostat thus may carry lighting and other systems (e.g. cameras) for further purposes.
We are cooperating with specialist suppliers for the aerostats plus fabric facilities and ground systems production. We also are cooperating with specialists for the light-show projection arrangements – not part of the basic captured aerostat package.
The low captured aerostats also may be used as big parasols or rain shelters (i.e. a large floating roof) with a stage below. Fitted with a skirt (an extra facility) that the aerostat raises and supports, they then may be used like marquees for many other purposes. The aerostats will be provided with attachment points for such skirts, which also will be used to attach storm protection skirts when held at ground level (minimising gust effects) and/or advertising banners for daylight hours. We also plan to integrate solar panels on the aerostat’s upper surface for power aloft.
The designs stem from mooring arrangements for similar lenticular aerostats intended for omni-directional airships and the need to develop them in an assured way through field tests before attempting free flight. The overhead captured aerostats thus were arranged as useful products for just ground use, perhaps later upgraded for dirigible flight purposes.
Types designed include: Mk 1 (LS-LT18) and Mk 2 (LS-LT15-V1), as below:
- Mk 1 is Ø18 m. It was produced as a test prototype called Vikki – see above photographs.
- Mk 2 is smaller (Ø15 m) to minimise cost. Its design incorporates lessons learned from Vikki. For further information, see its leaflet.
Vikki (Mk 1) was designed in 2009 by our founder for SkyLifter Ltd (who managed commercial aspects). He then led the subsequent technical programme for production, inflation, assembly, training, tests/operation and qualification, interacting with everyone involved to achieve their objectives. The arrangements therefore are known to work and function reliably. However, after proving the design, SkyLifter put Vikki into storage and didn’t follow up with either completion of a formal certification programme or to enable further production/development.
Our founder later prepared designs for a series version, yet to be produced. The Mk 2 design thus is mature and known to work, but needs to be certified before it would be allowed to enter public service. Please contact us if you would like to support further development.
Luffships Ltd now owns Vikki (acquired April 2018 – still capable of operation) and plans to use her for further purposes. We plan to certify the arrangements and produce series versions for general supply to operators for various purposes as products under lease or purchase arrangements.
We expect that customers will prefer the smaller Mk 2 design, which will be cheaper to acquire and operate. It therefore is planned to be the first product for supply. It will be packaged as a complete system in a single container with ground infrastructure able to be transported in a van – sufficient for new operators to get underway. Luffships Ltd also will provide training and support as necessary. People interested to become an operator should register with us via contact.