Are Floating Cities Actually Possible on Earth?

Floating Cities

You’ve seen it somewhere – from an anime, a movie, a book, or a role-playing game based on Norse mythology: floating cities. Are they actually possible? For instance, do we foresee any capital or city in the world actually lifting from the ground and becoming suspended in the air forever, or at least for a decent amount of time? What would life in a floating city be like? Would it be splendid? Or would the lack of oxygen kill off everyone instantly? Okay, let’s not get demented real quick.

Personally, I do like the idea of a floating city. It means that it can circumnavigate the globe, and we can travel without actually leaving our city. Kind of like a Juno with the elements of Prontera instead.


If you didn’t get the Ragnarok Online reference, then you probably didn’t lose a hefty amount of school allowance in massive multiplayer online role playing games, or simply put, MMORPGs. Ragnarok Online is a South Korean RPG game, which has been an integral part of my childhood essentially because of the breathtaking and captivating environs. Take Juno for example. Juno or Yuno is the capital of Schwarzwald Republic, north of Rune-Midgard. (These are all made up names and places for the game btw. However, Schwarzwald actually means Black Forest in German – the more you know. 🙂 ) One of the main attractions of this city is that it is completely suspended in the air. Although, actually it still has a bridge connecting it from land, so I’m not sure why the descriptions online are “city above clouds” or “city in the skies.” Nevertheless, the fact that it’s suspended makes it a little bit more interesting. Anyway, I’ll talk more about that game in another post. You get the idea.

Images of floating cities are very prominent in the steampunk genre. I can already imagine how my city would look like if floating it were a possibility – the abundance of brass metal pipes, turbines, artificial windmills, gears, clocks, and all that steampunk glory manifesting around me. A particular anime called Trigun has an episode called the Flying Ship in which the protagonist Vash the Stampede hitches a ride on a suspended piece of an old ship in mid-air.

Flying Ship

There are numerous rooms and a whole community of inhabitants in it. Applying the same principles that govern aerial vehicles, can we make floating cities, if not a stationary suspended hunk of metal but a travelling or hovering citadel, into a reality here on earth?

Let’s explore the options:

Rockets – The Saturn V rocket is one of the biggest rockets ever devised. At a full burn, this gargantuan creation can produce enough fire and exhaust to create 1.7 million pounds of thrust. That’s more than enough to help a shuttle escape the pull of Earth’s gravity, but is it enough to hold up something like a building? If a Saturn V rocket could hold it up, perhaps it’s not so ridiculous to hold up a city with many of them. However, using simple math, if you’ll use a Saturn V rocket to lift a building weighing 330 million kilos (let’s go big.), you’ll need 420 Saturn V rockets to get it off the ground. That’s a lot of rockets. Imagine the heat and light it would make.

My Eyes

So rockets are out.

Balloons – Hey, that’s an idea. Balloons are bound to be more effective, right? Helium floats in air because it is less dense. Of course, lighter hydrogen is out of the question unless you want to create a gigantic fireball in mid-air. As it turns out, the predicament is not far off with rockets. Take the same building for instance. The math puts it at around 330 million cubic meters of helium. That’s a shitload of helium. Also, because the worldwide helium production is around 30,000 metric tons per year, it will take more than two years’ worth of helium just to get this building off the ground. Take note, we’re talking about one building. Now, what about a city again?

As it turns out, I regret to say that the answer to the question of this topic is NOT at the moment. Again, it is not possible for floating cities on earth at the moment. Not unless you’re willing to create a f&ckton of helium and damage our atmosphere with an unnecessary imbalance of gasses. Maybe someday it will be a possibility, but for now, if we can’t even levitate one building, how are we supposed to make entire cities float?