Lockheed Martin’s VR School Bus Drives You Across Mars

If there is one thing we need to make sure that we keep innovating and reaching for that next step in technology, it is to get the next generation of potential scientists, engineers, and inventors interested in STEM careers. This is something that Lockheed Martin believe very firmly, with the aim of their new Generation Beyond initiative being to find exciting ways to inspire young people to want to be involved in the field. In order to do this, they have developed an experience that should give a small taste of just what our future could be like, a simulated bus ride across the surface of Mars.

The Mars Experience is an immersive virtual reality adventure that takes place entirely aboard an American school bus. The windows of the bus are covered, which allows a view of Mars’ vast and sprawling surface to be shown to those within and the movement of the bus will seem like it is really driving along the surface of the Red Planet.

To power this experience, Lockheed Martin has employed the same kinds of software used to develop the most advanced video games of today and used it to develop a VR experience not limited to a headset and capable of rendering over 200 square miles of Mars’ surface. Lockheed’s bus will be making a tour across the US to give students around the country a chance to experience it for themselves.

Generation Beyond isn’t just investing in the Mars Experience either, with the program offering a free curriculum on deep space to any middle school teacher as well as developing an app that provides real-time reports of the weather on Mars. It may seem like all fun and games, but it is great to see such an initiative attempt to engage the next generation in a manner that they can also enjoy.


Lockheed Martin Wants To Demonstrate Hypersonic Planes

When you think fast you might think of a sports car or even a fighter jet? For years, the SR-71 has been the symbol of supersonic flight. Lockheed martin hopes to take this a step further with plans to demonstrate in the near future hypersonic planes.

50 years after the SR-71 Blackbird flew from New York to London in less than 2 hours, Lockheed Martin announces its sequel, the SR-72. The SR-72 is a modern plane for a modern age, with expected speeds of up to Mach 6, the aircraft will be completely unmanned (at Mach 6 do you really think a person will have time to react?).

Like with most technology it develops Lockheed Martin sees the SR-72 for its military abilities. Brad Leland, programme manager for Hypersonics states that “Hypersonic aircraft, coupled with hypersonic missiles, could penetrate denied airspace and strike at nearly any location across a continent in less than an hour”.

Using lessons from the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2), the SR-72 will use all the latest information regarding aerodynamics, control and aerothermal effects while travelling at Hypersonic speeds. The HTV-2 was noted to have flown at Mach 20, which is pretty impressive even for a rocket.

This is all just a dream at the moment, though, with the company working on developing the engines and designs over the past several years. The ultimate goal is to have the SR-72 operational by 2030, a not too distant future which may become true sooner than we expect.

F-35 Delayed Until 2019 Due to Software Issues

Problems with the F-35 are nothing new, with countless issues continuing to plague the jet fighter throughout its development. Now, as if to make matters worse, it has suffered another delay in its rollout, with the US House Armed Services Committee being informed that the new multirole jet won’t be ready before at least 2019.

When it was originally conceived as the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35 was intended to reinforce the air power of a number of countries worldwide, including the US and the UK, now it is possibly the most expensive joke in the world. The issues with the F-35 range from simple code crashes and bugs to more amusing issues such as the radar requiring pilots to hard restart it in flight and even major security flaws.In a recent review of the jet by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, it was reported that the F-35’s latest operating system version contained 931 open, documented deficiencies, of which 158 are considered Category 1, posing risks death, severe injury or illness.

In a recent review of the jet by Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, it was reported that the F-35’s latest operating system version contained 931 open, documented deficiencies, of which 158 are considered Category 1, posing risks death, severe injury or illness. Gilmore also reported that even with limited and incomplete testing, the F-35’s cyber security has deficiencies that “cannot be ignored. Currently, 60% of all F-35s already produced are grounded due to software issues, giving an example of a four-plane exercise that had to be aborted “due to avionics stability problems during startup” in two of the aircraft. Obviously, this is a major deficiency for the most software dependent warplane ever made.

It’s not just software issues that the F-35 has either, for example, pilots under 136 lb will be unable to fly the plane due to the ejection mechanism, which also has “serious” problems for those weighing over 165 pounds. Even for those in the ideal weight range for the F-35, which makes up 27% of pilots, there is still a 23% chance of death on ejection and the odds of “some level of injury resulting from neck extension to be 100 per cent,” figures which are contested by General Chris Bogdan.

Even the annual cost of the F-35 falling is not enough to save it either, with the jet estimated to cost the US government alone $379bn between now and 2038, which is $12.7bn annually, for 2,457 planes.

It is almost a wonder that the Joint Strike Fighter program is yet to be cancelled in the face of so many flaws with the F-35. At this point, though, whether they give up or carry on, the cost isn’t going to be cheap and those air forces ordering it would need a new replacement. I’m sure Lockheed Martin are hoping that they can have the F-35 ready by 2019 though I’m sure many expect the ill-fated warplane will continue to disappoint.

F-35 Radar Glitch Requires Pilots to Turn it Off and On Again!

At this point in its development, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is almost infamous due to the countless problems that have caused huge delays and taking it vastly over budget. Now another problem has been found with the software used for the F-35’s radar. The solution to this problem? Just turn it off and back on again!

In modern air battles, combat takes place beyond the visual range of the pilots, requiring extensive use of radar in order to locate and evade or attack enemy targets. As a result, in an aircraft touted as the most advanced jet fighter ever built, a flaw in its radar would put it at a huge disadvantage against vastly less developed jets. US Air Force Major General Harrigian spoke to analyst firm IHS Jane’s, telling them “What would happen is they’d get a signal that says either a radar degrade or a radar fail – something that would force us to restart the radar.”

Thankfully Lockheed Martin has discovered the cause of the glitch and are working towards a solution to the problem as well as running it through the software testing labs. The fixes are expected to be delivered to the US Air Force by the end of the month, however, this new problem has caused countries such as Australia to reconsider their orders of the plane. Keith Joiner, the one responsible for evaluating the plane’s performance for the Australian defence force said in a discussion with Radio National Background Briefing: “Some systems like the radar control are fundamentally worse than the earlier version, which is not a good sign.” With the next major software version for the plane, Block 4, not due until 2020, all development of the plane’s software since 2013 has been bug fixes, which hardly instills confidence in the original quality of the code. According to Joiner, the plane does not even have competent cyber security in place, with the only system that has undergone such testing being the logistics software, which did not have promising results.

With each F-35 jet approximately priced at about £100m, it is no wonder that nations are starting to lose faith in the 15-year long project. Each new flaw discovered in the F-35 just adds to a laundry list of past issues making other offerings seem far more attractive to the armed forces. The HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier is expected to take on a complement of 36 F-35 jets by 2018, but whether this ever comes to pass seems less likely with every new flaw and delay.

NASA to Spend $20 Million on New Supersonic X-Plane

In a bid to develop a plane that could fly over land at supersonic speeds without disturbing those on the ground, NASA has awarded $20 million to Lockheed Martin to develop the concept. This craft will be known as the “low boom” flight demonstration aircraft and will be part of a plan to reintroduce commercial supersonic flights, which have not taken place since Concorde was retired in 2003. The award was announced by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at an event on Monday at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia.

In his speech, Bolden harked back to the first ‘X-Plane’, the Bell X-1, which, piloted by Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier almost 70 years ago. Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.” said Bolden.

This award is the comes after a year of NASA soliciting designs from a number of companies across the US for an aircraft that would be able to break the sound barrier, without the typical large sonic booms. Instead, the designs should result in more of a supersonic “heartbeat”, which is closer to a soft thump than a violent boom, also known as Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST).

The Lockheed team chosen by NASA will receive $20 million over the next 17 months in order to develop the prototype QueSST design, including drawing up baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, as well as provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning. This documentation would then be used going forward with the final design, building and testing of the first QueSST jet, which would be subject to another future contract competition run by the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Integrated Aviation Systems Program.

We have seen many crazy designs for “Concorde 2” and the like, which seek to bring supersonic passenger jets back to the air. The timescale on this new X-Plane is long, however, the development of quiet supersonic technology could overcome one of the main issues with supersonic flight which has seen it banned over land in some parts of the world. Whether this design is successful or joins many other X-Planes as amazing prototypes of technology for their time remains to be seen, but there really could just be a ‘new Concorde’ on the horizon.

U.S. Navy Testing Pilotless Helicopters

The Naval Research Labratory has been testing pilotless helicopters for some time now. In fact, they’ve been using them in Afghanistan already but due to their inefficiencies in operating the technology it isn’t being used to its full potential.

Marines primarily use the unmanned helicopters for the delivery of items like water, food, and gear from place to place, where ever it might be needed.

The improvement in technology brings a greater level of  autonomy to these units. According to officials associated with the project, the technology has been tested on three different helicopters already as well as two versions being produced by both Lockheed Martin and Aurora Flight Sciences.

Check out the rest of the Article over at MSN.

Thank you to MSN for providing us with this information.

Plans For A New Spy Plane In The Works, Codenamed SR-72

Throughout most part of the Cold War, the U.S. Air Force turned to the SR-71 Blackbird for many of its most important spy missions. The jet-black jet could fly at more than three times the speed of sound and at altitudes of 85,000 feet, faster and higher than anything adversaries had to counter it.

The last flights of the Blackbirds were in 1999 and the U.S. military hasn’t had anything close to them since. It appears that now, Lockheed-Martin, the maker of the SR-71, says the “Son of the Blackbird,” the SR-72, is in the works and it will be twice as fast as and way more lethal than its father. That’s because the SR-72 will be designed to launch missiles, something the SR-71 didn’t do.

“Even with the SR-71, at Mach 3, there was still time to notify that the plane was coming, but at Mach 6, there is no reaction time to hide a mobile target,” Brad Leland, Lockheed Martin’s program manager for hypersonic, told Aviation Week and Space Technology. For those interested in knowing more about this futuristic spy plane can have a look at the publication here which provides a detailed look at the SR-72 plans.

Thank you CNN for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of CNN