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Alaska next stop for Arctic blimp builder after Canadians cancel contract

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch
Sagar N. Pathak | Moffett Field Historical Society Museum

A British company that landed a tentative contract to build a fleet of hybrid airships for Canada just had its balloon burst, so to speak. But the United Kingdom's loss may be Alaska's gain.

Discovery Air has let expire the deal with Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited to design an airship to work in Canada's Far North that would be gassed by non-flammable helium and air propulsion. Specs for the Canadian dirigible: move up to 50 tons of cargo at speeds up to 115 miles per hour.

But a meeting in Anchorage later this month may offer hope for Arctic blimps:

"[Alaska's] needs is the same as [Canada's]," University of Manitoba airship researcher Barry Prentice told CBC. Alaska has "lots of places that are difficult to get to. They have mining operations and there’s reason to do things. … Airships aren't stopping just because [Discovery Air's] decided not to do something."

Read more background on Canada's dirigible project here. For more on the recent contract cancellation - and Alaska's prospects - check out the full story at CBC News.