Possible uses of Vacuum Balloons and their future

Some possible uses for the vacuum balloon

The most obvious application of the vacuum balloon is for transport. Manned or unmanned balloons, equipped with wind-sensing and intercommunications equipment, could rise and fall to take advantage of winds travelling in various directions at various heights, carrying people or freight. Tethered rows of vacuum balloons could support cable-car systems. They could also support a long electromagnetic launching frame to accelerate capsules into space.

Vacuum balloons could be positioned in clouds to collect water and tap the electrical energy they contain. The collected water would have considerable potential energy available for power generation, and could be piped long distances using gravity.

Large balloons positioned above the clouds would be ideal for collecting solar energy, as would collection surfaces suspended between networks of balloons. These could also be used to shade desert areas, giving some climate control. With plenty of water and sunlight available, it might be possible to shift some agriculture above ground, releasing the natural surface for restoration to wildlife conditions.

It should also be possible to locate communications equipment in vacuum balloons, providing transmission sites to bridge the gap between tall towers and communications satellites. The balloons could also replace helicopters and cranes to some extent, in moving things over difficult terrain or at great heights.


The vacuum balloon concept opens the way to a whole new era of man's control over his environment. For the first time, it could make true mastery of the third dimension of space possible.

It may be that our future civilization will change radically, from a groundbased one to an air-based one, with the bulk of the population living above the land, or the sea. Expansion into the third dimension would make elbowroom for everyone.

Through a vast network of Skyducts, producing energy, water and food, and providing easy transport and communications from essentially automatic equipment, most of man's needs would be met, giving him the room and the leisure to suit himself.

[For the full item containing the above, go to http://www.aoi.com.au/Originals/VacuumBalloon.pdf. The original item was published in 1983 in Speculations in Science and Technology, Vol. 6, No. 3, pages 262-266.

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Last update 2006 Feb 6