Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s secretive project to build a massive electric airship is rapidly scaling up, and his Lighter Than Air research firm prepares for its first major test flight later this year. Currently, Brin is hiring hundreds of aeronautical engineers in Silicon Valley and in Akron, Ohio, a site known for its Goodyear blimps, to build blimps for humanitarian missions to remote areas or disaster areas.
LTA was founded in 2014, while Brin resigned as an executive at Google parent Alphabet in 2019. LTA is headquartered at Moffett Airport in the San Francisco Bay Area, a facility owned by NASA and a short drive from Google’s headquarters. NASA began leasing the facility to LTA in 2015.
LTA wants to reinvent airships for the 21st century with “zero emissions” flight. The company’s first full-scale airship, Pathfinder 1, is 120 meters long and is scheduled to begin test flights in Silicon Valley this year.
At the same time, LTA is also developing a larger airship: Pathfinder 3 at the Akron dock. It’s 185 meters long, and when it’s completed next year, it will eventually be able to carry 96 tons and have a range of up to 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers). LTA’s Akron hiring drive over the next few months will double the company’s workforce to more than 400 people.
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