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A new age of airships?

Published 1451 GMT (2251 HKT) June 20, 2013
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Hindenburg under constructionHindenburg under construction
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Airships were once hailed as the future of flight. Glamorous, luxurious and fast, they were one of the icons of the Art Deco era. General Photographic Agency/Getty Images/File
They developed from the hot air balloon; the Montgolfier brothers launched the first manned balloon flight in Paris in 1783. Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hydrogen-filled balloons were used for surveillance and reconnaissance during the American Civil War in the 1860s. Fotosearch/Getty Images/File
But the Hindenburg disaster at Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937, put paid to the era of passenger-carrying airships.
Over the decades, they have continued to be used for advertising, and at sporting events, such as this one at the London 2012 Olympics. Feng Li/Getty Images
And now they appear to be undergoing something of a renaissance -- U.S.-based Aeros is working on the Aeroscraft, a cargo-carrying airship. AEROS
The Aeroscraft is designed to carry large loads of cargo over long distances to inaccesible areas where there is little or no infrastructure. AEROS
Aeroscorp, which also makes advertising airships, is testing a smaller version of the Aeroscraft at the company's massive flight test hangar in Tustin, California. AEROSCORP
Other new-look airships in development include Raytheon's JLENS aerostat, designed to carry out surveillance missions, hovering high in the air 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 30 days at a time. Image: Raytheon