back to article Germany tests tadpole airship

A German-American company has successfully tested a prototype unmanned airship of weird and wonderful design. The so-called "Stratellite" craft is composed of gas-filled segments linked in a chain, so it can flex and bend with the wind. Here's a company flight-test vid (you need Flash and YouTube privileges to see it): …


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  1. Tom

    wot about h2o

    I wonder if you could get condensation and split that to generate fuel. You wouldnt want to use hydrogen down here but up there its not likely to harm anyone - and its a lot lighter too!

  2. Gulfie

    Close Encounters of the Bogus Kind

    Get ready for a fresh rash of UFO sightings when this thing starts being tested. I can see the headline in the Sun now: ET Soars With Eagles!

    But seriously, its just as well Concorde isn't still flying, I bet these things don't show up very well on radar.

  3. Adrian

    I forsee

    a rise in UFO sightings over Germany - cigar shaped ones but pointing upwards rather than the tradional zep. ones (oh wait, is that what the UFO is, a balloon ?).

    All hail our helium breathing overlords....

  4. Les Matthew
    Thumb Up

    My first thoughts were of this

  5. Caff


    If its unmanned why not opt for cheaper hydrogen?

  6. Flocke Kroes Silver badge


    You would need lots to fuel to supply the energy needed to crack H2O and make hydrogen fuel. It would be simpler to just use a perpetual motion machine.

  7. Hollerith

    not like the old days

    I keep hoping that airship technology will once again allow a civilised joruney from, say Buenos Aires to Berlin, leisurely sipping cocktails as we sail, nearly silent, across Brazel's forests, the Atlantic, and the Alps before making a civilised descent.

  8. Anonymous Coward


    Not my first thought, but...

    ...mine's the one with the latex products in the pocket.

  9. Smallbrainfield

    Flying Spermatazoa

    Presumably they make a giant condom shaped airship to catch them in.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    kinda sweet

    i wish they'd draw a big happy face on the front of it.

  11. James Pickett


    "tadpole-like segmented design"

    Since when were tadpoles segmented? I know it's Friday, but...

  12. Michael
    Thumb Up

    Bring back the Zeppelin!

    US military has been experimenting with high altitude baloons for years.

    Cargolifter AG had been developing long distance zeppelin -like cargo transports , before they ran out of money. (Just like the original zeppelin maker - hence the REALLY bad sponsorship deal)

    Since it is the greenest way to fly, and since Iceland has plenty of hydrogen (Volcanoes,produce energy, crack H2O) but no efficient way to transport it, I think we might see a lot more of these in the future.(Unmanned, of course..lets hope no-one jams their gps)

  13. Anonymous Coward

    I don't quite get it

    Wait a second.... how far back in time exactly does it go? I mean if we were talking days or weeks I can see it catching on. But if it can only go a few minutes back in time then I really don't get the point of it at all.

  14. Mike Flugennock


    You fargin' bastidge, you read my mind.

    Brilliant bit of technology, I thought, but my brain can't stop it from looking like a goddamn' giant sperm.

    On top of it, you spot one of these from the ground, flying at around 70k ft, and man, does it _ever_ start looking like a giant sperm. People really _will_ think we're being "invaded".

    Oh, and I can't wait to see the first high-res orbital fotos from the ISS of one of these bad boys flying over water, while the crew and MCC joke about how it...

    ...ohh, never mind; the black trench, thanks.

  15. David Cherry

    A bit low

    65 feet is a bit low for cruising height

  16. chris

    Looks like a Tadpole? Not! It's a.....

    Are we being politically correct on The Reg now?

    So -this thing has a large white head and a flex-tail?

    and it looks like a tadpole?

    What were these chappies doing in Biology class?

    It is without doubt or procrastination - a large Sperm cell.

    [Shock -Horror]

  17. Steve Smith

    What, nobody else?

    None of you see the dreaded "planet eater" / doomsday machine that Captain Kirk bravely fought from his La-Z-Boy recliner many years ago? Hmm. Tadpole it is then.

    If it really looked like a flying sperm cell, we surely would have been treated to a dozen or more Paris references by now. Tail's much too thick.

  18. GrahamT

    Venting off expensive Helium

    Why go to the expense of using large volumes of neutral buoyancy gas for fuel when you could use cheap, low volume, high energy density petrol or LNG and compress the excess expensive helium into a tank, replacing it by pumping air into a bladder, to keep the buoyancy neutral.

    This is not new technology, it is analogous to the way submarines vary their buoyancy.

  19. Grant
    Dead Vulture

    Sanswire, damn

    Wow Reg editorial standards are really slipping first not calling it a giant sperm and then not googling Sanwire and Securities Fraud. This company is well know amoung airship enthusiasts, unforunately not for good reasons.

  20. Davy
    Thumb Up

    Yes I thought Sperm

    at first, but then I thought

    "..add some wings and a forky tale-PUFF ! the magic dragon !"

    This invention only has a future as a Children's Entertainer, if such a thing's still allowed these days.

  21. Schultz

    Whatcha whatcha gonna do

    when the airworm comes for you?

  22. Martin Budden Silver badge

    @ James Pickett

    Tadpoles have always been segmented... they have vertebrae ;-)

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