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Blimps over Alaska: NASA touts airships for Arctic transportation

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

Will planes one day share Alaska's skies with blimps bound for the Bush?

It was hard to resist punning around on opening day of NASA's Cargo Airships for Northern Operations Workshop in Anchorage. One federal official told the Associated Press that blimp-like airships looked "to be an industry about to take off" in the Arctic.

Airship builders are gathered in Alaska's largest city to pitch ways that environmentally-friendly blimps can be deployed to assist industries doing business in rural Alaska. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell spoke at the conference, noting that 200 communities across Alaska are off the road system. Airships could one day assist businesses in need of transportation options across the state's vast wilderness, the AP reported.

Canada recently let expire a contract to build a fleet of futuristic zeppelins, each capable of moving up to 50 tons of cargo at speeds up to 115 mph. The airships would have been used to "foster economic development" in Canada's remote Arctic regions, including the Northwest Territories.

Will Alaska embrace the idea? NASA seems bullish on blimp technology in the Arctic. See the airship conference agenda here.