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.
William D. Perry; Thomas H. Jaeckle; Allan B. Black; Lawrence E. Epley