This is relevant for Venus colonization since that considers floating cities. Since one can't use cranes, I was thinking perhaps helicopters or airships could be used to move construction pieces around. One inspiration is the SkyLifter airship.

So imagine one had multiple of these airships, could they then coordinate the assembly of multiple parts in the air, or would this just be way too complicated? I assume one could hoist humans down in a tether to connect the parts once two airships got the parts close to each other and managed to hold them close for long enough time for humans to connect them.

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    $\begingroup$ It'd be safer on the ground. At least there the sulfuric acid rain should have evaporated already. $\endgroup$
    – Colyn1337
    Aug 27, 2015 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how given the temperatures are over 400 degrees celsius and pressure 90 times that of earth. There is no practical way for humans to work under those conditions. Besides you can do construction above the sulfuric acid clouds. $\endgroup$ Aug 27, 2015 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ The main concern I would have is how to protect the construction team & item being constructed from sudden wind gusts. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Aug 28, 2015 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Fred the workers should probably be tethered to something. E.g. one could employ similar practices as mountain climbers and fasten some sort of hook close to where you work and attach your tether to that. I also assume sudden wind gusts should be similar problem for construction workers on high rises. Yet you got these 1930s pictures of guys eating lunch sitting on a steal beam hanging in the air. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2015 at 11:37
  • $\begingroup$ "Yet you got these 1930s pictures of guys eating lunch sitting on a steal beam hanging in the air." PictureS plural? I know there is a famous one of a bunch of guys all sitting along the same beam that is sticking out into the air, but I've heard it was a fabricated shot. I'd had my suspicions. Given the way it was shown, they'd all have to arrive then leave from the beam in the same order - which seemed a bit 'restrictive'.. Good question though. I think it would be easier than surface construction, and that the challenges of suspended construction are solvable. $\endgroup$ Aug 28, 2015 at 12:58

2 Answers 2


Construction in air might happen via assembly like you suggest, by docking and then connecting elements together using standardized mechanical lockings (analogous to ISO container locks, but more secure) to produce a rigid frame for larger constructions. I recently made a concept video of what such a container might look like: https://vimeo.com/258318163 (This is just the rigid support frame, the full assembly would also have inflatable or solid walls, plus a lot of extra stuff that I was too lazy to model.)

One of the many problems of buoyant element assembly and docking is that when they are combined rigidly, they together form a new buoyant body, with a different center of buoyancy and center of gravity. This affects the stable orientation of the composite body, which needs to be taken into consideration. (This is not the case if the airships are only connected with long flexible tubes, but that solution has its own set of problems.)

And it also goes without saying that this kind of in-air assembly and docking needs to be practiced on Earth before trying it on another planet (one where the floor really is lava).

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for all the thoughts you put into this. What was actually your motivation for the video you showed? Have you played around with similar ideas before? I am not a builder so I struggle a bit with fully appreciating the overall philosophy around how things are built. I mean should we always think in terms of scaffolding first and then build the permanent structure around or inside the scaffolding? The scaffolding has to grow from top down, rather the normal bottom up, which makes me struggle with imagining how this would really be handled in practice. $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2018 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. The video I made because I had an idea that I wanted to see what it would look like. I have some experience with the animation tool blender, and this turned out to be a good project to improve my skills with it. For an actual building project the next step would probably be scale models, or finite element analysis of stress points. Practical knowledge is lacking in this area, since no-one has ever built anything like this. $\endgroup$ Jun 15, 2018 at 19:34

The density of the atmosphere at the surface of Venus is about 65kg/m³, much higher than on Earth (1.2 kg/m³). That gives airships a lot more lifting-force. Furthermore, the Venus atmosphere is mostly carbon dioxide, which has a high molar mass. That allows use of other gasses for an airship, for example nitrogen or oxygen.

An important question is of course if any work at all can be done on the surface, due to the extremely high temperature and pressure. Higher up in the atmosphere, the conditions are a little more friendly, and once leaving the ground, flying vehicles become a necessity. Given the fact that lighter than air technology has always been close to the surface, but never quite made it, here on Earth, gives airships a good chance in the more dense atmosphere of Venus.

density of atmospheres

Density of the Earth's and Venus' atmospheres in kg/m³


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