Airships, the silent, futuristic vessels that float through the skies of alternate histories and ecotopias, aren't just the stuff of science fiction. Here are ten airship that exist today, or are under development for tomorrow.
This fleet of four blimps dates back to the early twentieth century. Docked throughout the United States, these non-rigid airships float across the country and make appearances at public celebrations and events, occasionally taking on a few passengers.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to Airship Ventures, the company that operates the Zeppelin NT Eureka. It's a helium-filled zeppelin whose rigid outer structure is made with the same material that NASA uses for its space suits. It has three engines, is exceptionally quiet, and can land anywhere that there's a big enough circle cleared. Companies and individuals can rent it for special events or just book a ride on one of its regular cruises throughout California. Photo by Roger Cain.
Australian company SkyLifter is currently developing what they call a "heavy lifter" zeppelin, which they believe could be used for a number of things — but mostly, they hope it can become a replacement for skyscraper living. The SkyLifter is designed to heft big housing complexes into the sky, creating mobile buildings where people can live and drift around, landing when they need to at a SkyLifter complex like the one depicted in this video.
A solar-powered zeppelin designed by researchers at several French universities and technical schools, the Nephelios is 72 feet long and 18 feet wide. It's the end result of Projet Sol'r, and was designed to fly across the English Channel last year.