The space industry could be developing at a faster pace, but unprecedented costs related to spacecraft construction are preventing its growth. The most costly vehicles can reach high altitudes, serving as platforms for satellites. A newly discovered method might make these vehicles much cheaper to build.
The concept was developed by several private firms working together with a group of scientists. They proposed ‘Phoenix’ as an alternative to devices that are currently being used: a special satellite launching mechanism based on an air cushion. Scientists were inspired by nature in creating this mechanism: fish use a similar method to stay afloat.
‘Phoenix’ resembles an enormous airship. This 15-meter device is equipped with two wings. The vehicle is 10.5 metres wide. It moves by changing its mass by letting out compressed air. ‘Phoenix’ is a balancing act, alternating a mass that is lighter and heavier than air, thus enabling its flight.
The device is also equipped with solar batteries that generate electric energy to operate its pump system. ‘Phoenix’ can be used as a pseudo-satellite or a launch platform for small spacecraft.
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