Back to the Future—Galaxy Unmanned Systems Kickstarter Next-Generation Unmanned Airship


Unmanned airships will again return to the skies of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Texas. After a multi-year hiatus from the commercial drone business, the principals at Galaxy Unmanned Systems L.L.C. (formerly Galaxy Blimps) are ready to incorporate lessons learned from supporting the U.S. military on successful LTA projects. The unmanned blimp isn’t a totally new concept; we successfully built and flew an entire line of blimps before the FAA policy clarification.

We at Galaxy Unmanned Systems L.L.C. (GUSllc) have launched a Kickstarter project aimed at building our next-generation unmanned airship platform geared toward humanitarian aid along with Search & Rescue operations. With the FAA’s efforts to regulate the UAS industry now shifting from exemption petitions to vehicle registration, GUSllc seeks to provide a demonstration platform for awareness and certification of lighter-than-air (LTA) technology.

Chief Test Pilot Tony White: “With our next generation unmanned airship we can bring new perspectives to film and television as well as show the public what positives drone blimps can do for Search and Rescue, humanitarian aid, erosion studies, and a whole host of other applications.” Your backing will provide a tangible alternative that will demonstrate what a UAV program should be—not just with words or promises, but with an actual proven platform. The technology you are funding is here to benefit and support us in making the world a better place through knowledge and research.

Our airships are there to be seen by the populace, not to see what the populace is doing. We are there to provide a beacon for those lost, to provide eyes over dangerous, toxic air at the site of an emergency or a vast raging fire, and to help find survivors on the ground. We are there to loiter for long periods and to discover our impact on the world using only positive buoyancy to float for hours at a time while consuming very little energy.

Up until recently there was no legal avenue for commercial operations. Now, though, the Section 333 Exemption process has given us an opportunity to build a new iteration of LTA drone that offers a great many benefits; the most obvious is its ability to safely transition unmanned systems into the U.S. market. The helium airship design is inherently safe in that it is comprised mostly of lightweight fabric material. Mishaps would be similarly to a hot air balloon causing little damage to objects on the ground.

LTA has been around since the dawn of flight but has only recently come back into focus as a means to safely carry large payloads for extended periods of time. Our latest platform will conduct testing of autonomous sense-and-avoid flight systems without the traditional worry of becoming an out-of-control projectile or obscure obstacle to manned air traffic. GUSllc’s airships are relatively large, lightweight per cubic foot, and highly visible; our objective is to use this platform to usher in common-sense regulations development for the UAS community in general.

The rewards for this Kickstarter project range from T-shirts and flight jackets to actually getting to pilot the finished blimp. GUSllc is also offering opportunities for contributors to come help build and serve on the ground crew for the completed ship. Other rewards include frame-quality engineering prints, desktop display models, and the permanent engraving of contributor names into the airship structure. Funding for this project closes on December 20, 2015, so contributors are urged to hurry if they want to participate.

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