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Prototype Beanstalk

February 16th, 2006 (02:43 pm)
current mood: Hmm...

Today I spotted an article in New Scientist on a successful test of a prototype Beanstalk—only a mile high, but it's an interesting start. It was held up by balloons.

What's interesting about this in the short term is if you combine it with the airship idea. For a plane to land and take off is a huge investment of time, so you wind up with large planes going long distances, and then small planes for the last mile. Suppose an airship could stop above your destination, lower its Beanstalk, and send you down in the elevator?

Comments

Posted by: Alexx Kay (alexx_kay)
Posted at: February 16th, 2006 08:01 pm (UTC)

Even without a portable, retractable beanstalk, you can get large savings by having the airship not land at (most of) its major destinations, and just send passengers and luggage down a small beanstalk.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 17th, 2006 01:59 pm (UTC)
Permanent Beanstalks

I thought of permanent Beanstalks as an option; but the portable one gives more flexibility—you can not-land anywhere there's enough open space to tether the ground end of the Beanstalk. At the extreme, imagine an airship that picked you up at your house. :-)

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 16th, 2006 08:08 pm (UTC)

The old dirigibles had pylons to do this in the old days, but they were permanant structures.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 17th, 2006 01:56 pm (UTC)
Pylons

Yeah, but these airships would fly at 8,000 feet; if you want to avoid having to descend, then you need something like Beanstalk technology.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: February 17th, 2006 02:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Pylons
Pastafarian

On the other hand, the old airships were mostly buoyant; this one is only 2/3. So it would save fuel to come down all the way. (Icon for floating things.)

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: February 17th, 2006 02:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Pylons

Maybe, maybe not—it'll consume fuel to lift it again.

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