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GIANT BLIMP SET FOR TAKEOFF

ascender2.jpg"Next month, a V-shaped airship bigger than a baseball diamond is due to rise from the West Texas desert to an altitude of 100,000 feet, navigate by remote control, linger above the clouds and drift back to earth," Defense Tech pal (and MSNBC correspondent) Alan Boyle writes.For the U.S. Air Force, the feat will demonstrate the feasibility of a new kind of semi-autonomous craft that could hover in "near space," to do reconnaissance and relay battlefield communications.That vision is ambitious enough. But for JP Aerospace, the California-based company that built the airship for the military, the flight would represent just one more small step toward an even bigger conceptual leap: a system of floating platforms that gossamer spaceships could use as high-altitude way stations.Defense Tech took a tiny peak at JP's blimp here. More on airships here, here, and here, too.

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