Blimp Tower Makes First Test “Flight” Over New England Town


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Last week, Altaeros, a Massachusetts-based company founded in 2010, launched a test flight of its first aerial cell tower resembling a big blimp, known as SuperTower. The New Hampshire Union Leader reported, the tethered blimp could one day provide cell coverage in remote areas while hovering hundreds of feet over the launch pad.

The tower, which is also called an “aerostat” and is expected to be flown periodically over the next several months, is designed to deliver high-speed mobile broadband to rural communities at lower cost, reported the Union Leader.

According to Ben Glass, founder, and CEO of Altaeros, “The launch was completed successfully, according to plan, with no major problems. Once we have reviewed the data from this initial launch, we will continue operating on and off over the coming months.”

According to the company, the tower deploys radios and antennas over four times higher than regular cell towers, which allows the signal to reach greater distances, offering “safe and reliable operation in all conditions.”  

But not all residents of Freemont are excited to see the blimp overhead. Safety concerns arose after the test about, “the blimp breaking free and crashing” and “collapsing” on nearby condominiums. One resident also noted concerns over privacy, fearing a camera will be added to the blimp to “spy on people.”

Glass said the tower is safe. “We have incorporated a number of safety features, above and beyond what is required for airworthiness. These include structurally redundant tethers to ensure it doesn’t get loose,” he noted. “Additionally, there is plenty of space within the test site to ensure if it does ever come down, it will be within the test site boundary.”

December 10, 2018

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