Stratalite:Is this is spelling mistake? Did I mean satellite? No, This time it is not a spelling mistake and I did not mean satellite. It is stratalite only. Are you now thinking what is Stratalite?
By definition A stratalite is an airship designed to cruise at an altitude of 20 km or 65000 feet. Hmmmm by now you would be guessing that a stratalite is new mode of transportation and yes you are correct but not for humans. It would transport data. So basically a Stratalite is communication hub and would perform same functions as satellite. The difference being that it is placed in stratosphere instead of outer space and that is where it gets it name from. So just like satellite it will stay stationary at one point.
You would be thinking how it would stay in one position in stratosphere as there is air there. Yes that is right but stratosphere is so thin that pressure there is much less than in troposphere. Hence the energy required is just fraction of what it would have been in lower altitudes. The energy for this is generated from solar panels located in top surface of stratalite. In fact the entire upper surface to air ship would be solar panel. To maintain its position Stratalite will use 6 on board GPS unit.
How big is Stratalite and what is it made up of? Stratalite can carry a payload of 1400 Kg and would be almost 75m in length; 44m is width and 26.5 m in height. It’s envelops are made of Kelvar.
The next obvious question is how stratalite will reach an altitude of 20 KM. Is there a special rocket that will carry place it in position? The answer is surprisingly simple in proprietary lifting gas technology. Initially stratalite will be filled with 2000 cubic meter of helium which will expand by 17 times once it reaches cruising altitude of 20 Km. So it uses light weight of helium along with the it expansion on higher altitude to lift itself up.
Why Stratalite? The company that is building stratalite claims following advantages
- Stratalites would be way cheaper then satellite.
- It would be easier to launch stratalite.
- Easier to maintain. Each stratalite will remain in its position for 18 month after which another stratalite would replace it and original one can be brought down for maintenance and up gradation. So each stratalite is recoverable.
- One single stratalite can cover a area as large as ¼ of India.
- Communication to and from stratelite would be much faster then from satellite. While satellite has typical lag of 220 millisecond, stratalite would reduce it to 70 micoseconds
Who is building Stratelite? Sanswire a wholly owned subsidiary of GlobalTel Communication Corp. is building stratalites. There have been report that many countries including India are looking into the technology.