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Eli Dourado AMA

Stably-positioned, heavily-capitalized, professionally-managed, presumably-licensed beamed-power infrastructure, such as terrestrial power stations or solar power satellites, aren't really like random malicious or careless people with portable lasers. So if beamed-power otherwise becomes technically practical/beneficial, this seems a safety/perception/regulation challenge not especially larger than the many others involved here. 

Eli Dourado AMA

So theoretical airship-cargo is still way more expensive per container or ton than either rail or container-ships – it just wins by speed or having more endpoints (like trucking)? Hence, 'airship trailers' provide no chance of incremental capacity boosts for surface vessels, if still limited to their speed/endpoints? 

Capping laser/microwave/etc beamed power density to what's safe for failure situations where it's "missed the receiver" seems prematurely restrictive. What if misses are so rare, & so easily detected/ended-instantly, that such a limit is an inefficient way to increase safety compared to other tactics? If the big market is over unpopulated oceans, is the concern for brief rare misses that high? (And is the "long way off" for things like laser-propulsion or power-delivery really longer than the other engineering/regulatory hurdles involved?)

Drones (including airship-bouyant drones, not just multicopters) to ferry full containers to passing-by megaships would be interesting – but I was thinking as small as individual packages, dropping and rising from households & individual businesses. (At some margin, can automated megaships be warehouses/fulfillment-centers?)

By my intutions, I find wind issues underdiscussed in these next-generation airship visions. It amazes me the wind conditions in which winged flight remains tractable – but those craft seem to rely heavily on actively avoiding the worst conditions, & their own momentum/strong-propulsion. Airships feel at much greater mercy of winds, for both predictable-service/efficiency & safety. Deeper analyses of how frequently there'd be delays, emergency groundings, service outages, etc from wind conditions would better help sell the vision. 

Eli Dourado AMA

On cargo airships: has anyone analyzed designs that remain towed/tethered to surface routes/vessels?

For example, could an electric locomotive powered by ground lines tow far larger amounts of cargo via a tethered airship? Or, an oceangoing container ship tow more tonnage in its air-trailer than in its holds?

Alternatively, could such tethers-along-routes supply electricity to self-propelled airships, minimizing onboard fuel/generation weight? 

Or, could airships receive beamed power from elsewhere? For example, tightly-planned routes might receive beamed power from surface stations – possibly even mid-ocean wind/solar/tide platforms. Or could arbitrary routes receive beamed power from solar-power satellites? 

Might short-range drones, or even smaller airship lift platforms, enable loading/unloading smaller cargo onto larger airships without explicit landing stops- making the largest platforms permanent 'conveyor belts' in the skies?

Similar to your map showing where high-elevation mountains may present 'no-go' areas, are there regions where the constancy or unpredictability of high winds create no-go or highly-variable service limits? When an envisioned large ships hits unexpected/unpredicted high winds, what does it do to adapt? (Can it usually wait it out or ride the winds for mere delays, or are things like emergency landings or even scuttling the ship within the likely scenarios, under large scale operations?