Researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) are putting a 21st century spin on a 19th century technology to make the nations ports and coastal waters safer. Airships -- known today mainly for advertising flyovers at football games -- are the core of a new coastal surveillance system in development for the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) of the U.S. Department of Defense. But the new models will bear little resemblance to their predecessors. These High Altitude Stratospheric Airships (HASAs) will be unmanned, stationary platforms 14 to 16 miles above the ground. At 500 feet long and 150 feet in diameter with a volume of 5 million cubic feet, the HASAs will be 25 times the size of a Goodyear blimp.
The airships will be equipped with an array of cutting-edge equipment for remote sensing, communications, and risk analysis of suspected threats -- and thats where NJIT comes in. The university is partnering with StratCom International LLC to serve as the academic research and development base for the project.
NJITs component of the project is under the direction of Donald H. Sebastian, PhD, vice president of research and development and director of the universitys Homeland Security Technology Center. Sebastian says the project is a natural fit for NJIT. "We have expertise in the whole range of applicable technologies -- terahertz imaging, advanced materials technology for the airship skin, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), intermodal freight transportation through our transportation centers, wireless telecommunications, and information-assurance systems. Were also an agile university with a strong entrepreneurial character that allows us to respond quickly to an emerging need such as homeland security."
Sheryl Weinstein | EurekAlert!
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