So I was looking at old airships and a thought crossed my mind. Would a rocket that benefited from being lighter than air travel faster than standard rockets. I know the current designs are pretty quick - something like 8 minutes from Earth's surface to orbit. However, they are extremely expensive to make and dangerous. I always find lighter than air, aircraft to be fascinating. I know society seems to think it is an obsolete method for air travel but I would argue the exact opposite. The old USS Akron aircraft carrier seems like to coolest thing built in the last 100 years and one only need look at the amazing interior of Hindenburg to realize what mankind is missing out on.

As most know, the old airships used propellers for propulsion. Everybody says how they don't fare well in wind and storms. It seems like the answer is simply in new propulsion methods.

I imagine the answer could go either way. If the ship or rocket was small enough than perhaps we would see something really fast, maybe not though. I think the issue then would be not ripping apart from the g forces.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ There are many flawed ideas in your question. Lighter than air machines don't fare well in winds and storms for the very reason that they are lighter than air. Changing the propulsion (presumably you are thinking about going faster) will not change the fact that they are lighter than air and will be "pushed around" by the wind. They will simply fly diagonally faster. Inertia and momentum are the problems, not speed. If your rocket is lighter than air (even assuming that this is constant, which it is not, it must become heavier than air at some point), what payload are you proposing to lift? $\endgroup$ – Simon Jan 18 '17 at 8:35
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The closest studied concept is the "airship to orbit" (ATO) idea: JP Aerospace. The future satellite slowly climbs to low orbit. It's feasible, but so far there are no use case, it's easier to climb with a rocket. However like Cubsats are a new way to access space for small relatively inexpensive applications, or drones are used to deliver pizzas, airship cannot be discarded entirely for future uses. $\endgroup$ – mins Jan 18 '17 at 9:23


To orbit you need lots of speed. To get lots of speed you need lots of mass (propellant)

Lots of mass and lighter than air are antinomic.

Look up this site and space.stackexchange for lots of other negative answers about orbit and blimps.

Ex: https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/2876/can-we-make-a-space-blimp

  • $\begingroup$ I am fairly confident I answered what the OP meant. $\endgroup$ – Antzi Jan 18 '17 at 7:41
  • $\begingroup$ That may be true, but you have done this from an arguable assumption: "To go to orbit you need lots of speed" is not correct in theory. Velocity is required only to orbit when the engines are shutdown. You may go to orbit altitude at 1 mm/s if you have engines able to run the required time, or positive buoyancy. $\endgroup$ – mins Jan 18 '17 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think orbit is considered as a "place" rather than a state. I'm not sure which one of us is being awfully pedantic, but maybe we should wait for the OP's clarifications. $\endgroup$ – Antzi Jan 18 '17 at 8:38
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @mins: Going to orbit is not about going high, it is about going sideways really fast. $\endgroup$ – Jörg W Mittag Jan 18 '17 at 10:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I clarified the answer in case someone else don't know the definition of orbit. $\endgroup$ – Antzi Jan 18 '17 at 13:00

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.