Google co-founder Sergey Brin is reportedly building his own large secret airship inside a NASA hangar, according to Bloomberg. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the media outlet says the craft is being housed at NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Is Sergey Brin really making a secret airship?
According to Bloomberg, the Google co-founder’s fascination with airships started when he visited Ames and saw old pictures of the large USS Macon, an airship built by the U.S. Navy in the 1930s. It is not yet certain whether the secret airship is a just a passion project for the Google co-founder or a prototype for a business venture.
In 2015, Google’s Planetary Ventures division gained access to the Ames facility. They reportedly began using the large hangars there as test areas and labs for new technologies. Sources, however, told Bloomberg that the airship is not a proper Alphabet project. Further, the sources said Brin’s airship is not complete yet, although the engineers have built a giant metal frame that already fills most of the large building.
Airships may sound a little outdated at a time when self-driving cars and Internet-beaming drones are the next big things. However, Alan Weston, who is reportedly leading Brin’s airship project, has previously talked about the potential of such vehicles to carry freight at decreased costs. In 2013, Weston, a U.K.-educated aeronautics expert born to Australian parents, talked about a helium-filled airship which used a system of “breathing” to carry over 500 tons of cargo. He described it as more fuel efficient than a truck. Weston, who has also served as director of programs at Ames, noted that airships could drop goods off where required instead of dumping them at airports or ports, which further require travel by rail or road.
Weston is ideal for such projects
Weston has a background that’s perfect for such an unusual enterprise. He spent most of his youth in Turkey before ending up at Oxford University. Later, he became a member of the Dangerous Sports Club and did things like catapult people across fields into nets. The club members are also credited with inventing a modern form of bungee jumping.
Weston joined the Air Force years later and did engineering work as part of the U.S. government’s Strategic Defense Initiative. He was a part of the Reagan government’s iconic “Star Wars” missile defense system. Later, he left the Air Force to join NASA and worked on several projects, including the development of a less costly lunar lander, notes Bloomberg.
Weston is also known for his daring acts. He once flew around the Houses of Parliament “in a microlight, wearing a gorilla outfit, playing a saxophone and chased by a police helicopter and two civilian helicopters,” according to the U.K. Daily Telegraph. He also broke his ankle while trying to hang-glide down Mt. Kilimanjaro, and he reportedly performed one of the world’s first bungee jumps.
There has been no comments from Weston on the matter, but Sergey Brin told Bloomberg, “Sorry, I don’t have anything to say about this topic right now.”