1436. A Stratospheric Platform – Substantial Advances of the STARS Project


SAWE Members get a $200 store credit each year.*

Become a SAWE Member

*Store credit coupon available at checkout, click the button in your shopping cart to apply the coupon.
Not applicable to SAWE textbooks and current conference technical papers.


E C Okress, R K Soberman: 1436. A Stratospheric Platform – Substantial Advances of the STARS Project. 1981.



This paper substantially extends the efforts presented in an earlier paper*. The aerostat is characterized
as a large, constant-volume (vented), solar-powered, heated air, spherical, rigid navigable and hoverable
aerostat able to remain aloft at an altitude of 20 to 30 kilometers in the stratosphere on its own
environmentally clean solar power for indefinite residence, with life support supplies. It may be launched
on its own solar power from the surface, ground or water, or preferably small helium dirigible shuttle-assembled
on site in the stratosphere. Size of the STARS aerostat may vary, from substantially less than 300 meters to
substantially in excess of that diameter – the bigger the better. Equipped with solar energy conversion and
nighttime buoyant energy storage systems(e.g.,solar energized water electrolysis), it will be capable of performing,
on a 24-hour basis, a wide variety of long-term scientific, commercial and strategic missions in the stratosphere
such as the numerous examples previously delineated. *Included among them is a two stage recoilless director
catapult launching station for the order of 100 metric tons of space hardware or reusable spacecraft. Most, if not
all, of the numerous missions may be conducted simultaneously, due to the unprecedented lift capability of the
proposed aerostat. With environmentally clean solar-energized compressed air, and/or suppressed electric discharge,
thrusters, it will be capable of 24 hours/day navigation and hovering in stratospheric winds to about 80 kilometers
per hour or more. Most regions in the stratosphere about the Earth may be reached on solar energy alone. With
Space Power System (SPS) Laser-directed energy to the STARS aerostat,** the inaccessible (i.e.,polar) regions of the
Earth may be also included. Residence in the stratosphere is anticipated throughout the year for an indefinite
period (e.g.,to 10 years or more).
STARS is constructed as a hollow, spherical rigid tensile structure of modular type supporting two concentric
modular layers of polymer film envelopes in close proximity, for thermal reasons. Since the upper (daytime
orientation) hemispheric envelopes are transparent to solar radiation, but confine infrared radiation, and the lower(day time orientation) hemispheric
envelopes are metallized, the air temperature inside the aerostat, day and night, can be maintained at about 300$infty$K.
This affords about 510 and 90 metric tons lift at 20 and 30 km altitude, respectively, for a 300 meter diameter
aerostat. Higher entrained air temperatures (e.g., to 473$infty$K envelope limitation) may also be maintained.


SKU: Paper1436 Category: