[JPA LOGO]      The Airship to Orbit Project
 


ATO

We are creating a whole new way to space.


If you want to get to space you climb on top of a giant fuel tank and light it on fire. There has got to be a better way.

The idea is simple. Use an airship to float on the top of the airmosphere, then the craft slowly accelerates using electric/chemical hybrid rocket engines over days until it reaches orbital velocity.

The details are complicated. For one, for an airship to fly at the edge of space it will need to be big. I mean really big, over a mile long. It would also need to be very light, a gossomer hypersonic airship. Such a vehicle is not suited for flight in the lower atmopshere. This and other factors create the need to a three stage approach.

Three step approach

The first stage is an airship that travels from the ground to 140,000 feet. There it will dock with a waystation floating at the top of the atmosphere. Cargo and crew then transfer to a large 'Orbital Airship' for the nine day journey to orbit.

This is an enormous undertaking. It requires developments in hypersonics, plasma rocket engines, active drag reduction and more. It needs a great deal of experience operating in the upper atmosphere.
This is not idle speculation. We are building the test vehicles, conducting the tests, flying development mission now.

Solar power at the edge of space  Airship valve tests at the edge of space  plasma motor development
We have conducted thousands of tests in the ATO program, both on the ground and at the edge of space.

Airship floating in hanger   airship lift off
We have build a series of large and small airships, one step at a time.

Of course this whole thing is crazy. You can't possibly fly and airship to space, can you? We are answering that question. It's been an over 40 year project. We've had our share of successes and failures. While we are figuring it out I invite you for follow along on the journey. I can't promise success, but it will be a heck of a ride.

Floating space port
Dark Sky Station

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This page was last edited on January 6, 2020
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