Gas Bag Inflation Patents (Class 244/98)
  • Patent number: 9650123
    Abstract: A lift assembly for use during inflation of a balloon envelope is provided. The lift assembly includes a plate structure that has a set of cavities. Each cavity includes one or more openings passing through the plate. One or more pistons are coupled to the plate through at least one of the openings of each cavity in the set of cavities. Each piston has a hollow tube portion projecting lengthwise from the at least one opening, a flange attached to the hollow tube portion and a grabber portion in communication with the flange. The grabber portion includes a plurality of bearings for grabbing a stud attached to an apex of the balloon envelope. A handle portion is coupled to the plate. The handle is arranged to lift the balloon envelope when the bearings have grabbed a given stud.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 30, 2016
    Date of Patent: May 16, 2017
    Assignee: X Development LLC
    Inventors: Daniel Ratner, Keegan Gartner
  • Patent number: 9643707
    Abstract: A system for filling balloons with lift gas is provided. The system includes apparatus for use with a balloon envelope of a balloon. This apparatus includes a main body having first and second portions. The first portion has a fill port and a hollow tube portion in communication with the fill port. The second portion has a surface and is insertable into a predefined opening in the balloon envelope. The surface of the second portion is configured to attach to an inner portion of the balloon envelope when the second portion is inserted in the predefined opening.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 25, 2016
    Date of Patent: May 9, 2017
    Assignee: X Development LLC
    Inventor: Daniel Ratner
  • Patent number: 9643708
    Abstract: Aspects of the disclosure relate to filling and lifting high altitude balloons. For instance, one example system for lifting and filling a balloon having a balloon envelope includes an apparatus for use with the balloon envelope. The apparatus includes a load line, a fill tube having a hollow portion nested within the load line and a termination member attached to the fill tube and load line. The load line is configured to lift the balloon envelope during inflation. The fill tube extends through the load line and is configured to allow lift gas to pass through the hollow portion. The termination member is configured to mate with an opening in the balloon envelope so that lift gas can pass through the hollow portion of the fill tube and into the opening in the balloon envelope.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 20, 2016
    Date of Patent: May 9, 2017
    Assignee: X Development LLC
    Inventor: Daniel Ratner
  • Patent number: 9346530
    Abstract: A lift assembly for use during inflation of a balloon envelope is provided. The lift assembly includes a plate structure that has a set of cavities. Each cavity includes one or more openings passing through the plate. One or more pistons are coupled to the plate through at least one of the openings of each cavity in the set of cavities. Each piston has a hollow tube portion projecting lengthwise from the at least one opening, a flange attached to the hollow tube portion and a grabber portion in communication with the flange. The grabber portion includes a plurality of bearings for grabbing a stud attached to an apex of the balloon envelope. A handle portion is coupled to the plate. The handle is arranged to lift the balloon envelope when the bearings have grabbed a given stud.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 2, 2015
    Date of Patent: May 24, 2016
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Daniel Ratner, Keegan Gartner
  • Patent number: 9174719
    Abstract: A top cap assembly is provided for mounting tendon to a balloon that has a balloon envelope. The assembly includes a plate structure having a plurality of junction portions disposed at an apex of the balloon envelope and a plurality of tendon pairs. Each tendon pair includes first and second tendon members attached to the balloon envelope. The first tendon member is arranged to cross over the plate structure. The second tendon member is arranged to engage the first length tendon member at a given one of the junction portions of the doubler plate. A fastener member is attached to each tendon pair of the plurality of tendon pairs. The fastener member is used for securing the first and second tendon members of a given tendon pair together in order to support lift gas carried by the balloon envelope.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 4, 2015
    Date of Patent: November 3, 2015
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Kevin Roach, Daniel Henry Fourie
  • Patent number: 9120551
    Abstract: Aspects of the disclosure relate to launching high-altitude balloons. For example, a launching system may include a tower having a tubular portion and a top portion. The tubular portion may include an interior space for launching the balloon and the top portion may be configured to allow the balloon to pass into to a space outside of the tower. The tubular portion may also include a plurality of openings configured to redirect air from outside of the tower and into the interior space in order to cause a cyclone of air from the opening towards the top portion. A covering device may be positioned within the tower in order to control airflow from the outside of the tower through the plurality of openings and to cause the cyclone of air.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 19, 2014
    Date of Patent: September 1, 2015
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventor: Daniel Ratner
  • Patent number: 9027877
    Abstract: High-altitude balloons and apparatuses for filling such high-altitude balloons are provided. As an example, an apparatus for filling a high-altitude balloon includes a tube extending through envelope material of the balloon is provided. The apparatus also includes a flange connected to a first end of the tube. The flange is connected to an interior surface of the balloon. A fitting is connected to a second end of the tube. The fitting is configured for attachment with an apparatus for filling the balloon with lift gas. In addition, methods of filing high-altitude balloons with lift gas and methods of manufacturing balloons are also provided.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 10, 2014
    Date of Patent: May 12, 2015
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventor: Kyle Brookes
  • Patent number: 8998128
    Abstract: A balloon having a bladder positioned within a balloon envelope, a plate having a port, a housing secured to the plate, an impeller positioned within the housing, the port providing a passageway from an inside of the housing to an inside of the bladder, wherein a passive valve having a periphery is positioned over the port, a control system configured, upon receiving a signal to increase the amount of air within the bladder, to cause the passive valve to move from a first, closed position where a seal is provided by the engagement of the periphery of the passive valve and a periphery of the port to a second, open position where the periphery of the passive valve is disengaged from the periphery of the port to open the passageway between the housing and the bladder and to allow air to be forced into the bladder.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 28, 2013
    Date of Patent: April 7, 2015
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventor: Daniel Ratner
  • Patent number: 8967533
    Abstract: Example embodiments may facilitate altitude control by a balloon in a balloon network. An example method involves: (a) causing a balloon to operate in a first mode, wherein the balloon comprises an envelope, a high-pressure storage chamber, and a solar power system, (b) while the balloon is operating in the first mode: (i) operating the solar power system to generate power for the balloon and (ii) using at least some of the power generated by the solar power system to move gas from the envelope to the high-pressure storage chamber such that the buoyancy of the balloon decreases; (c) causing the balloon to operate in a second mode; and while the balloon is operating in the second mode, moving gas from the high-pressure storage chamber to the envelope such that the buoyancy of the balloon increases.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 20, 2012
    Date of Patent: March 3, 2015
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Joshua Weaver
  • Patent number: 8910905
    Abstract: Disclosed embodiments relate to a combined shipping container and balloon deployment system for deploying balloons into a balloon network. Such a shipping container may allow one or more balloons to be transported to a desired launch location, and then launched directly from the shipping container.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 8, 2012
    Date of Patent: December 16, 2014
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L. Biffle, Joshua Weaver, Brad Rhodes
  • Publication number: 20140353424
    Abstract: A balloon having a bladder positioned within a balloon envelope, a plate having a port, a housing secured to the plate, an impeller positioned within the housing, the port providing a passageway from an inside of the housing to an inside of the bladder, wherein a passive valve having a periphery is positioned over the port, a control system configured, upon receiving a signal to increase the amount of air within the bladder, to cause the passive valve to move from a first, closed position where a seal is provided by the engagement of the periphery of the passive valve and a periphery of the port to a second, open position where the periphery of the passive valve is disengaged from the periphery of the port to open the passageway between the housing and the bladder and to allow air to be forced into the bladder.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 28, 2013
    Publication date: December 4, 2014
    Inventor: Daniel Ratner
  • Patent number: 8814084
    Abstract: A controllable buoyant system (10) includes a support structure having a sealed hollow enclosure (12) containing a first gas and surrounded by a second gas, either the first gas or the second gas being lighter than ambient air. The hollow enclosure is pre-filled with the first gas via a one-way valve that prevents the first gas escaping and an altitude sensor (14) generates an altitude signal indicative of a height of the support structure. A height transducer (17, 21, 61, 66, 67, 68) coupled to the hollow enclosure is responsive to the altitude signal for varying the buoyancy of the support structure. A controller (15) is coupled to the altitude sensor and to the height transducer and is responsive to the altitude signal and to at least one reference altitude signal for automatically controlling the height transducer in order to maintain the support structure buoyant at the preset altitude.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 24, 2011
    Date of Patent: August 26, 2014
    Assignee: New Create Ltd.
    Inventor: Oz Shenhar
  • Publication number: 20140203138
    Abstract: Lighter-than-air systems, methods, and kits for obtaining aerial images are described. For example, various methods for determining planned ascent, drift, and/or descent of a lighter-than-air system are described. In addition, various structural arrangements of lighter-than-air systems for accomplishing planned ascent, drift, and/or descent and obtaining aerial images are described.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 12, 2013
    Publication date: July 24, 2014
    Inventor: John Ciampa
  • Patent number: 8733697
    Abstract: A balloon that includes an envelope with a gas contained within the envelope, as well as a payload connected to the envelope wherein the envelope has a first portion that has a first absorptive or reflective property with respect to allowing solar energy to be transferred to the gas within the envelope, and a second portion that has a second absorptive or reflective property with respect to allowing solar energy to be transferred to the gas within the envelope where the second absorptive or reflective property is different than the first absorptive or reflective property, and wherein the envelope is rotatable to allow a preferred ratio of the first and second portions of the envelope to be positioned facing the sun.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 9, 2012
    Date of Patent: May 27, 2014
    Assignee: Google Inc.
    Inventors: Richard Wayne DeVaul, Eric Teller, Clifford L Biffle, Josh Weaver
  • Patent number: 8708276
    Abstract: A lighter than air emergency beacon platform as part of a hydrogen generation and filtration apparatus includes at least one power source having at least one activation switch. At least one reaction chamber is electrically connected to the at least one reaction chamber by at least one low-resistance electrical conductor. The reaction chamber is configured to house a hydrogen generating material. At least one flow disruption chamber is in fluid communication with the reaction chamber. The flow disruption chamber(s) are configured to provide fluid communication with the next flow disruption chamber in the direction of fluid flow. At least one inflatable housing is configured to carry payload and is in fluid communication with the flow disruption chambers. The inflatable housing is detached from a fill tube to lift the payload above terrain blocking line-of-sight signal communication.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 18, 2012
    Date of Patent: April 29, 2014
    Assignee: The United States of America as Represented by the Secretary of the Navy
    Inventors: Michael L. Petersen, Thomas J. Groshens, Elsa J. Hennings
  • Publication number: 20140076043
    Abstract: This invention relates to a thermal hydrogen generator and a process and system for generating hydrogen gas, more specifically to a process and system for generating hydrogen gas by thermally decomposing a metal hydride.
    Type: Application
    Filed: September 17, 2013
    Publication date: March 20, 2014
    Inventor: John A. Bognar
  • Publication number: 20140077030
    Abstract: A self transportable aerostat system comprising: a first motorized mooring truck; a mooring tower removably attached to a base assembly of the first mooring truck, generally vertically arranged in relation to the bed of the first mooring truck; a proximal and distal boom deck removably attached to the base assembly; a flying sheave for redirecting a tether carried by the base assembly and attachable to an aerostat; a second motorized mooring truck attachable to the outer edge of the distal boom; and, an aerostat truck having an electrical connection for connecting to the first mooring truck and having an aerostat storage compartment for storing the aerostat is a retracted configuration.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 7, 2013
    Publication date: March 20, 2014
    Applicant: TCOM, LP
    Inventor: TCOM, LP
  • Patent number: 8459589
    Abstract: An airship system, including an inflatable airship of predetermined volume adapted to be filled with gas and to rise to a predetermined altitude, said airship having a hull formed from an inflated flexible gas containment primary envelope, at least one lifting envelope located within the primary envelope for containing the lifting gas, where the lifting envelope will expand to substantially occupy the space of the primary envelope when the airship is at its predetermined high altitude, at least one secondary envelope located within the primary envelope, which can be inflated when said lifting envelope is at lower altitudes to fill the balance of the space of the primary envelope, and air handling means external to the primary envelope and communicating with the secondary envelope for filling and emptying the secondary envelope.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 15, 2009
    Date of Patent: June 11, 2013
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Nicholas L. Barnes, Jonathan M. Peritt
  • Patent number: 8336810
    Abstract: A system for efficiently transporting hydrogen from where it can be economically made to where it is most needed using specially designed airships. Technologies such as geothermal, wind, solar, wave tidal or hydropower can be used to generate electricity in-situ or very near to the primary energy sources. This electricity can then be used to produce hydrogen directly from water through various methods known in the art. Hydrogen can be delivered from the place where it is produced to the place where it is needed using an airship in which the hydrogen gas can also be used for generating lift, providing propulsion energy and serving ancillary needs. In other embodiments of the invention, the airship of the present invention can be used to dramatically reduce the cost of transportation of freight, the cost of passenger transportation, and to save on the area required for landing at the points of loading/unloading and embarkation/debarkation.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 29, 2008
    Date of Patent: December 25, 2012
    Inventor: Rinaldo Brutoco
  • Patent number: 7871035
    Abstract: A propulsion system for an airship or hybrid aircraft includes a propeller and a pivot mechanism connected to the propeller. The pivot mechanism enables the propeller to pivot around a first pivot axis between a maneuver thruster position and an emergency ballonet fill position. Under normal conditions, when the propulsion system is disposed in the maneuver thruster position, the pivot mechanism also enables the propeller to pivot around a second pivot axis to control the attitude and thrust of the vehicle. However, in an emergency descent situation, the propeller may be rotated to the emergency ballonet fill position.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 11, 2007
    Date of Patent: January 18, 2011
    Assignee: Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation
    Inventor: David V. Arel
  • Patent number: 7871036
    Abstract: A balloon launch unit produces lift gas to enable balloon launch or to allow the prolongation of balloon flight. A method of using the balloon launch unit can include reforming a fuel source by reaction with water to generate hydrogen-rich lift gas mixtures, and injecting the lift gas into a balloon. A reforming operation can include causing the combustion of a combustible material with ambient oxygen for the release of energy; and heating a reforming combination of reaction fuel and water with the energy released from the combustion of the combustible material, to a temperature above that required for the reforming reaction wherein the fuel and water sources are reformed into lift gas. The amount of the combustible material combusted is sufficient to result in the release of enough energy to heat an amount of the reforming reaction fuel and water sources to the temperature above that required for the reforming reaction.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 26, 2010
    Date of Patent: January 18, 2011
    Assignee: Pioneer Astronautics
    Inventors: Robert M. Zubrin, Mark H. Berggren, Dan Harber, Heather Ann Rose
  • Publication number: 20100200693
    Abstract: A balloon launch unit produces lift gas to enable balloon launch or to allow the prolongation of balloon flight. A method of using the balloon launch unit can include reforming a fuel source by reaction with water to generate hydrogen-rich lift gas mixtures, and injecting the lift gas into a balloon. A reforming operation can include causing the combustion of a combustible material with ambient oxygen for the release of energy; and heating a reforming combination of reaction fuel and water with the energy released from the combustion of the combustible material, to a temperature above that required for the reforming reaction wherein the fuel and water sources are reformed into lift gas. The amount of the combustible material combusted is sufficient to result in the release of enough energy to heat an amount of the reforming reaction fuel and water sources to the temperature above that required for the reforming reaction.
    Type: Application
    Filed: April 26, 2010
    Publication date: August 12, 2010
    Applicant: PIONEER ASTRONAUTICS
    Inventors: Robert M. Zubrin, Mark H. Berggren, Dan Harber, Heather Ann Rose
  • Patent number: 7735777
    Abstract: A balloon launch unit produces lift gas to enable balloon launch or to allow the prolongation of balloon flight. A method of using the balloon launch unit includes reforming a fuel source by reaction with water to generate hydrogen-rich lift gas mixtures, and injecting the lift gas into a balloon. The reforming operation includes causing the combustion of a combustible material with ambient oxygen for the release of energy; and heating a reforming combination of reaction fuel and water with the energy released from the combustion of the combustible material, to a temperature above that required for the reforming reaction wherein the fuel and water sources are reformed into lift gas. The amount of the combustible material combusted is sufficient to result in the release of enough energy to heat an amount of the reforming reaction fuel and water sources to the temperature above that required for the reforming reaction.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 6, 2006
    Date of Patent: June 15, 2010
    Assignee: Pioneer Astronautics
    Inventors: Robert M. Zubrin, Mark H. Berggren, Dan Harber, Heather Ann Rose
  • Patent number: 7568656
    Abstract: A system for controlling lift of an aircraft comprises an inflatable compartment for containing a gas which is lighter than air. A receiver receives and stores the gas in a compressed condition. Means are provided for compressing the gas and transferring it from the inflatable compartment into the receiver thus reducing the lift force on the aircraft.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 26, 2005
    Date of Patent: August 4, 2009
    Inventor: Alan R. Handley
  • Patent number: 7500638
    Abstract: A large heavy lift airship of lenticular shape divided into upper and lower convex shaped halves and configured with horizontal configurations in each half made up of four quadrants of inter-connected buoyant gas cells in which the interconnections consist of inline heat exchangers and blowers that control temperatures and buoyancy, giving a high degree of buoyancy, attitude and trim control. The flat lenticular design and large lifting capacity allows for a very large passenger or cargo deck positioned in the center of the airship, dividing it into its upper and lower convex shaped halves.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 24, 2006
    Date of Patent: March 10, 2009
    Inventor: Charles Roy Colvin, Jr.
  • Patent number: 7472865
    Abstract: A dehumidification system for removing water vapor from the within the envelope of an airship comprises a pressurizer valve, a blower and a dehumidifier attached to the airship. The pressurizer valve releases air from the envelope and directs the air to the blower. The blower forces the air through the dehumidifier where the air is dried to a desired dew point. The dried air is then forced back into the envelope of the airship, thus reducing the weight of the airship and reducing the amount of condensate that may form during an ascent.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 15, 2005
    Date of Patent: January 6, 2009
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Steven L. Sinsabaugh, Ann M. Dirling, Kurtis D. Kandel
  • Patent number: 7350749
    Abstract: The invention relates to a mechanism to control the pitch and/or roll and/or center of gravity of a vehicle. The first embodiment is a track-based mass transfer system in which pathways are positioned along or radially terminate at a central horizontal plane of the vehicle to move one or more mass transfer devices to a desired location to control the pitch and/or roll and/or center of gravity of the vehicle. A second embodiment is a fluid mass distribution system in which one or more conduits selectively distribute a fluid to one or more tanks positioned near a central horizontal plane of the vehicle to control the pitch and/or roll and/or center of gravity of the vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 7, 2006
    Date of Patent: April 1, 2008
    Assignee: LTAS Holdings, LLC
    Inventors: George H. Heaven, Jr., Michael K. Walden
  • Publication number: 20070272797
    Abstract: A method for modifying a target includes directing exhaust from multiple engines, preferably jet engines, towards the target. The target being modified can be, for example, a fire, an atmospheric system, a storm, snow, a gathering, a spill, an emission, a discharge, a mud slide, or a dust. The operation and/or deployment of the engines can be by remote control or robotics. In one example, a system for modifying a target includes a support for securing multiple jet engines and a fuel source. Preferably, the jet engines are mounted on turrets that are capable of being rotated.
    Type: Application
    Filed: May 23, 2006
    Publication date: November 29, 2007
    Inventors: Boris Skurkovich, Melvin A. Millstein, Simon Skurkovich
  • Patent number: 6883749
    Abstract: An apparatus for inflating and deploying an aerostat having a nose section and a tail section includes a cylindrical container for housing the deflated portion of the aerostat. The cylindrical container is formed with an open end and defines a longitudinal axis. A feed hose extends from a gas source, through the container to a hose end that projects axially from the open end of the container. The deflated aerostat is initially folded to juxtapose the nose and tail of the aerostat. Next, the nose of the aerostat is attached to the feed hose end and the remaining portion of the aerostat is folded and inserted into the container. As the tail section is inflated outside of the container, aerostat cloth is drawn from the container. A mechanism is provided to control the release of cloth from the container and maintain pressure in the inflating aerostat within a predetermined range.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 16, 2003
    Date of Patent: April 26, 2005
    Assignee: Information Systems Laboratories, Inc.
    Inventor: James H. Boschma, Jr.
  • Publication number: 20040217233
    Abstract: An apparatus for inflating and deploying an aerostat having a nose section and a tail section includes a cylindrical container for housing the deflated portion of the aerostat. The cylindrical container is formed with an open end and defines a longitudinal axis. A feed hose extends from a gas source, through the container to a hose end that projects axially from the open end of the container. The deflated aerostat is initially folded to juxtapose the nose and tail of the aerostat. Next, the nose of the aerostat is attached to the feed hose end and the remaining portion of the aerostat is folded and inserted into the container. As the tail section is inflated outside of the container, aerostat cloth is drawn from the container. A mechanism is provided to control the release of cloth from the container and maintain pressure in the inflating aerostat within a predetermined range.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 16, 2003
    Publication date: November 4, 2004
    Inventor: James H. Boschma
  • Patent number: 6722396
    Abstract: A method in which large-volume gas containers, for example, airships having a gas holding capacity of, for example, 400,000 m3, can be filled with a process gas, includes first completely filling the container with an auxiliary gas, the density of which differs from that of the process gas. The process gas is then quiescently introduced into an upper area of the gas container in such a way that no significant mixing with the air occurs and, at the same time, the auxiliary gas is removed by suction from the lower area of the gas container. To purify the contents of the gas container, purified or fresh process gas is quiescently introduced into the upper area of the gas container in such a way that no significant mixing with the contaminated process gas present in the gas container. At the same time, the contaminated process gas is removed by suction from the lower area of the gas container. To empty the gas container, the above-described process is reversed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 10, 2002
    Date of Patent: April 20, 2004
    Inventors: Diethard Sillat, Thomas Sauer
  • Patent number: 6715712
    Abstract: An apparatus for inflating and deploying an aerostat having a nose section and a tail section includes a cylindrical container for housing the deflated portion of the aerostat. The cylindrical container is formed with an open end and defines a longitudinal axis. A feed hose extends from a gas source, through the container to a hose end that projects axially from the open end of the container. The deflated aerostat is initially folded to juxtapose the nose and tail of the aerostat. Next, the nose of the aerostat is attached to the feed hose end and the remaining portion of the aerostat is folded and inserted into the container. As the tail section is inflated outside of the container, aerostat cloth is drawn from the container. A mechanism is provided to control the release of cloth from the container and maintain pressure in the inflating aerostat within a predetermined range.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 17, 2002
    Date of Patent: April 6, 2004
    Assignee: Information Systems Laboratories, Inc.
    Inventor: James H. Boschma, Jr.
  • Patent number: 6609680
    Abstract: A high-altitude airship has a non-rigid hull. On launch, the airship is partially inflated with a lifting gas. The partially inflated hull is less susceptible to buffeting and turbulence from lower atmosphere air currents during ascent. A ballast rotates the airship into a flight attitude (e.g., near horizontal) upon reaching a desired altitude. A low-powered propulsion system may be included to propel the airship at the desired altitude. Upon completion of its mission, the airship may be deflated and returned using aerodynamic deceleration such as a parachute, a parafoil and a ballute.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 23, 2001
    Date of Patent: August 26, 2003
    Assignee: Southwest Research Institute
    Inventors: William Dean Perry, Thomas Howard Jaeckle, Allan Bernard Black, Lawrence Ernest Epley
  • Patent number: 6568631
    Abstract: A method of launching inflatable airship apparatus (3) for subsequent ascent to high altitude for operation as an airship having a hull (4) formed from an inflated flexible gas containment envelope (5), payload (15), drive motor (6) mounted at the stern of the hull and cables (26,27), for supporting the payload (15) within the hull (4), connected to the drive motor (6) and to the hull at, or adjacent to, a nose portion of the hull. The method comprises partially inflating the gas containment envelope (5) with a lighter than air gaseous medium to cause the nose portion to rise within a vertical launch enclosure (10) to position the partially inflated gas containment envelope (5) in a launch position, and subsequently releasing the partially inflated gas containment envelope (5) from its launch position through an open top of the vertical enclosure so that the envelope ascends clear of the vertical enclosure (10) and lifts the payload means (15) and drive motor (6) by means of the cables.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 20, 2001
    Date of Patent: May 27, 2003
    Assignee: Advanced Technologies Group Limited
    Inventor: Reginald H. Hillsdon
  • Patent number: 6425552
    Abstract: A cyclical thermal management system is provided for responding to diurnal heating and nocturnal cooling cycles to maintain a high altitude platform in a geostatic position for long periods of time. The novel cyclical thermal management system utilizes solar energy collection devices to collect solar energy which is stored and utilized to operate physical and chemical exothermic processes for heating the lifting gas of the novel high altitude platform at night and to operate physical and chemical processes during the day for transferring the heat of the lifting gas to maintain a particular geostatic position. The cyclical thermal management system utilizes a recyclable energy storage material which is utilized in not only the cyclical thermal management of heat diurnally but also to provide for seasonal and longitudinal variation by increasing or decreasing the volume of lifting gas or by increasing or decreasing the amount of the energy storage material.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 15, 2000
    Date of Patent: July 30, 2002
    Assignee: Sky Station International, Inc.
    Inventors: Yee-Chun Lee, Elena A. Novakovskaia, Sam M.-S. Chen, Brandon G. Mason, Valentine R. Connell
  • Patent number: 6317080
    Abstract: A method of tracking airborne substances including the steps of detecting the presence of one or more airborne substances and releasing a tracking balloon into the path of the one or more airborne substances, the tracking balloon having a transmission means and a global positioning means adapted to communicate the latitude and longitude coordinates of the tracking balloon whereby the latitude and longitude coordinates of the tracking balloon are representative of the latitude and longitude of the one or more airborne substances previously detected.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 5, 2000
    Date of Patent: November 13, 2001
    Inventor: John Francis Baxter, Jr.
  • Patent number: 6227488
    Abstract: A mobile blower or fan is used to inflate the envelope portion of a hot air balloon. The fan includes a propeller which is driven by a gasoline/fuel engine and the engine is mounted on a wheeled base and is covered by an encompassing cage. By means of wheels attached to the base, it is possible to move the fan or blower on all types of terrain as needed.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: October 1, 1997
    Date of Patent: May 8, 2001
    Inventor: Darrell O Weiland
  • Patent number: 6182924
    Abstract: A lighter than air aircraft has a non-jettisonable ballast comprised of a liquefied lighter than air gas contained within an insulated container. The liquefied gas is vaporized and released into the lift compartment of the aircraft which is at least partially filled with a lifting gas. A heat exchanger, separate from the means delivering the vaporized gas to the lift compartment, increases the temperature of the vaporized gas prior to entry of the vaporized gas into the lift compartment, wherein the vaporized gas becomes mixed together with lifting gas and whereby damage to the compartment by excessive cooling is minimized.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 9, 1998
    Date of Patent: February 6, 2001
    Inventor: Julian Nott
  • Patent number: 6119979
    Abstract: A cyclical thermal management system is provided for responding to diurnal heating and nocturnal cooling cycles to maintain a high altitude platform in a geostatic position for long periods of time. The novel cyclical thermal management system utilizes solar energy collection devices to collect solar energy which is stored and utilized to operate physical and chemical exothermic processes for heating the lifting gas of the novel high altitude platform at night and to operate physical and chemical processes during the day for transferring the heat of the lifting gas to maintain a particular geostatic position. The cyclical thermal management system utilizes a recyclable energy storage material which is utilized in not only the cyclical thermal management of heat diurnally but also to provide for seasonal and longitudinal variation by increasing or decreasing the volume of lifting gas or by increasing or decreasing the amount of the energy storage material.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 15, 1997
    Date of Patent: September 19, 2000
    Assignee: Sky Station International, Inc.
    Inventors: Yee-Chun Lee, Elena A. Novakovskaia, Sam M.-S. Chen, Brandon G. Mason, Valentine R. Connell
  • Patent number: 5901922
    Abstract: A radiosonde balloon launching system including a silo for housing an array of radiosonde balloon modules and for sheltering radiosonde balloons during inflation, a base for containing radiosonde balloon inflation and launch apparatus and a device for shielding the silo until the radiosonde balloons are ready to be launched.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 30, 1998
    Date of Patent: May 11, 1999
    Assignee: Visidyne, Inc.
    Inventors: Giuseppe Aurilio, James M. Berrigan, Albert G. Hurd
  • Patent number: 5895010
    Abstract: A radiosonde balloon launching system including a silo for housing an array of radiosonde balloon modules and for sheltering radiosonde balloons during inflation, a base for containing radiosonde balloon inflation and launch apparatus and a device for shielding the silo until the radiosonde balloons are ready to be launched.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 31, 1998
    Date of Patent: April 20, 1999
    Assignee: Visidyne, Inc.
    Inventors: Giuseppe Aurilio, James M. Berrigan, Albert G. Hurd
  • Patent number: 5884862
    Abstract: A module for automatically launching a radiosonde balloon having a battery powered radiosonde tethered thereto, the module including a housing for the radiosonde balloon and radiosonde; and an automatic balloon inflation and launch apparatus.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 2, 1996
    Date of Patent: March 23, 1999
    Assignee: Visidyne, Inc.
    Inventors: Giuseppe Aurilio, James Berrigan
  • Patent number: 5850988
    Abstract: A radiosonde balloon launching system including a silo for housing an array of radiosonde balloon modules and for sheltering radiosonde balloons during inflation, a base for containing radiosonde balloon inflation and launch apparatus and a device for shielding the radiosonde balloons until they are ready to be launched.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 20, 1996
    Date of Patent: December 22, 1998
    Assignee: Visidyne, Inc.
    Inventors: Giuseppe Aurilio, James M. Berrigan, Albert G. Hurd
  • Patent number: 5850987
    Abstract: A radiosonde balloon launching system including a silo for housing an array of radiosonde balloon modules and for sheltering radiosonde balloons during inflation, a base for containing radiosonde balloon inflation and launch apparatus and a device for shielding the silo until the radiosonde balloons are ready to be launched.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 31, 1998
    Date of Patent: December 22, 1998
    Assignee: Visidyne, Inc.
    Inventors: Giuseppe Aurilio, James M. Berrigan, Albert G. Hurd
  • Patent number: 5697579
    Abstract: An airship has a flexible gas storage tube which forms a frame that maintains an inflated condition of an envelope of the airship permitting the envelope to be charged with hot air. A pump and valve are provided for supplying gas such as air, helium, and hydrogen to the gas storage tube.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 6, 1996
    Date of Patent: December 16, 1997
    Inventor: Masahiko Hayashi
  • Patent number: 5538203
    Abstract: The invention is a ballonet system for a lighter-than-air-vehicle, the vehicle having a lift producing gas bag and a longitudinal, vertical and lateral axis. In detail, the ballonet system includes a plurality of ballonets located within the gas bag positioned along the longitudinal axis and on each side of the vertical axis of the vehicle. Each of the ballonets include a flexible sheet joined at its periphery thereof to a portion of the wall of the gas bag. A ballonet pressurization system is coupled to each ballonet for pressurizing them with air that includes the portion of the wall of the gas bag forming the ballonet having a plurality of holes therethrough. A manifold having an inlet port is joined to the wall covering the holes therein and is adapted to diffuse the pressurized air entering therein.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 20, 1994
    Date of Patent: July 23, 1996
    Assignee: Lockheed Corporation
    Inventor: James A. Mellady
  • Patent number: 5333817
    Abstract: The invention is a ballonet system for a lighter-than-air-vehicle, the vehicle having a lift producing gasbag and a longitudinal, vertical and lateral axis. In detail, the ballonet system includes a plurality of ballonets located within the gasbag positioned along the longitudinal axis and on each side of the vertical axis of the vehicle. Each of the ballonets include a flexible sheet joined at its periphery thereof to a portion of the wall of the gasbag. A ballonet pressurization system is coupled to each ballonet for pressurizing them with air that includes the portion of the wall of the gasbag forming the ballonet having a plurality of holes therethrough. A manifold having an inlet port is joined to the wall covering the holes therein and is adapted to diffuse the pressurized air entering therein. Also included is at least one fan having an inlet port coupled to ambient atmosphere and an outlet port coupled to the inlet port of the manifold for providing pressurized air to the interior thereof.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 22, 1993
    Date of Patent: August 2, 1994
    Assignee: Lockheed Corporation
    Inventors: John B. Kalisz, Mark H. Wexler
  • Patent number: 4982915
    Abstract: A fire-resistant foam having hydrogen-filled cells for use in airship/balloon envelopes.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 10, 1989
    Date of Patent: January 8, 1991
    Inventor: Gregory R. Brotz
  • Patent number: 4911379
    Abstract: While the broad invention is directed to a device automatically releasable of a balloon when a predetermined degree of inflation has been achieved, in a preferred combination there is included the inflatable balloon, the balloon being restrained by a restraining mechanism until inflation by a lever mechanism when moved beyond a predetermined point representing the degree of balloon inflation desired, causes the restraining mechanism to release the balloon, and the restraining mechanism including a biasing spring to facilitate rapid release, together with the balloon gas-input spincter rubber valve having inserted therethrough a gas-inflating needle providable of inflating gas from a compressed or pressurized gas source or gas container contained in an open-top box having a lid, until the opening of the lid actuates a gas-release valve to inflate the balloon; release of the inflated balloon facilitates the pulling of the balloon's spincter rubber valve off-of the gas-inflating needle, the gas being preferably
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 23, 1989
    Date of Patent: March 27, 1990
    Inventor: Shari D. Kopelman
  • Patent number: 4795112
    Abstract: In the event of an earthquake or fire, important objects like a recording medium used in a location where important information to the outside are relayed or in a location where natural phenomena are observed, are carried away, hanging from an airborne balloon that is inflated and released in response to the mechanical shock of an earthquake or the heat of a fire.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 5, 1987
    Date of Patent: January 3, 1989
    Assignee: Hashimoto Corporation
    Inventor: Kazuo Hashimoto