NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia – New energy-efficient airplanes could be designed. Researchers work on designs for viable commercial aircraft which could leave a low to zero carbon footprint.
In order to save jet fuel, they look at new concepts, processes, and designs that could be lighter. They try to reduce drag, and they try to increase the propulsive efficiency. For this purpose, they try to get rid of metallic airframes, and parts as often as possible.
For instance NASA has a newer composite 10 percent lighter than carbon fiber composite. This advanced material is called « Pultruded rod stitched efficient unitized structure » or PRSEUS.
The new sleeker designs look like large wings without any traditional tube-shaped fuselage in the central part since it is blended with the wings. These futuristic designs are more fuel efficient as the more lift the plane has, the less it consumes fuel.
The researchers also look at new energy sources as it is showed in this video, and in the end there is further information about the NextGen project which could save fuel too, thanks to this new form of air traffic management:
Felix Baumgartner, an Austrian skydiver, performed a challenging test jump on Thursday March 15, 2012.
Felix Baumgartner has the right stuff. He is a well known BASE jumper. B.A.S.E. means Buildings; Aerials; Spans (jumps from bridges); and Earth (jumps from cliffs). He performed numerous stunts such as jumping from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, World Financial Center T101 in Taipei, and the Millau viaduct.
Yesterday’s jump test is just a stage in his attempt to break a new free-fall record. He jumped above Roswell, New Mexico at an altitude of 71,581 feet ie 21.8 kilometers; 13.6 miles; or Flight Level 716. He should then carry out another jump test before leaping again from a capsule lifted by a helium balloon at around 120,000 ft ie 23 miles or 37 km this year, and could become the first man to break the sound barrier while free falling.
This is not a simple leap in the sky. People may not understand how dangerous skydiving at such heights is. The air density is so low that it cannot brake movements as drag becomes poorer up there.
Therefore, a position mistake can make the human body tumble violently or spin very fast. High rotation speeds involve high-G forces due to the centrifugal force, and may lead to G-LOC (G-force induced Loss Of Consciousness), and even to the rupture of blood vessels.
Moreover, if a spacesuit were to leak (due to a dormant seal failure or a cracked/crazed faceplate, for instance), the blood could be boiling (ebullism at 37°C above 63,000 ft or 19 km) because of the very low air pressure, and the body could be swelling, and actually freezing to death as the external temperature can reach down to -70°C, and even lower, not to mention the risk of pulmonary barotrauma.
The current record is held by Joseph Kittinger (a former USAF pilot who is curently advising Felix Baumgartner on his project) who jumped from 102,800 feet in 1960. He temporarily lost the use of his hand which got twice as big as a glove seal was leaking during the final part of the ascent. With this test jump, Felix Baumgartner already belongs to the highest three skydivers along with Joe Kittinger, and Russian Eugene Andreev who performed the longest parachute jump from 83,523 feet (25.5 km).
The following video shows that this feat is not only a matter of pushing limits as researchers are working on this Red Bull Stratos project to prepare flight safety of the future spacecraft:
The British Harriers were to be replaced by the F-35Cs. Do you remember? You may have learnt from the recent news that the carrier variant of the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Joint Strike Fighter – CV JSF (Carrier Vessel variant’s Joint Strike Fighter) – F-35C was unable to catch the wire onboard the aircraft carrier during the latest landing tests.
Strange as it may seem, the F-35C’s designers may have not forecast what would unfold during a test flight while landing on an aircraft carrier:
The arresting hook (tailhook) never engaged the arresting wire as the clearance between the tail hook and the main landing gear’s tyre tread is too short for such a speed. An F-35C Lightning II missing her carrier landing has been reported even though some U.S. officials would have dismissed such information which might result from simulated tests.
Added to that is a software bug which had grounded the CV JSF for 6 days a few month earlier for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft might have encountered wing-folding input while flying!
As a result, the British Ministry of Defence might find a Plan-B solution as these design flaws, and some others which date back to November 2011 are deemed unacceptable for such an expensive fighter aircraft – $139.5 million for the F-35C (CATOBAR – Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), and $150 million for the F-35B (STOVL – Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing). The latter can land on carriers but she is more expensive, and the JSF program costs have already increased several times.
Moreover, the JSF would not be able to fire AMRAAM air-to-air missiles as reported in this video:
And there’s even more: according to a Pentagon study team report, 13 areas of concern that remained to be addressed in the F-35 would have been identified. For instance, the Helmet Mounted Display System (HMDS) would not work properly…
The British MoD is therefore considering the purchase of either F/A-18E Super Hornets or RAFALEs for the RAF. The French Dassault which has already lost the Swiss NAC tender due to replace the Swiss Air Force’s F-5s, would be proposing a new offer with 18 RAFALEs at a cost deemed lower than the 22 SAAB Gripens’ one according to the Swiss press.
The RAFALE is still in competition with the Eurofighter in the Indian MMRCA tender. the Indian officials are expected to make a decision this week. To be continued… ==> We have just learnt (on January 31, 2012) that the RAFALE has won the MMRCA tender… 🙂
11/30/2011 – The news broke today : The Swiss Air Force is to acquire 22 Sweedish SAAB GRIPEN fighter aircraft. The Swiss government had warned that they were compelled to squeeze their budget for this $3.36 billion bid as they could not afford to purchase the 33 fighter aircraft planned for the replacement of their F-5 Tiger fleet.
In spite of its outstanding performance during the tests as well as over the battlefields in Afghanistan, and in Libya, the Dassault Rafale was not chosen. Moreover, like the EADS Eurofighter/Typhoon, it was deemed too expensive for Switzerland could not buy as many aircraft within the budget allocated.
The Gripen is a good option for Switzerland since it is the cheapest one. The version to be delivered – JAS 39E/F or Gripen Demo/NG – is believed to be an excellent one – IRST (InfraRed Search and Track); ES-05 Raven AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar & SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar); Electronic Warfare (EW) systems; Helmet Mounted Sight and Display (HMSD)…
However, this new-generation Gripen NG is a single engine fighter aircraft. It was tactically outperformed by its opponents, and last but not least, it has not yet been produced. As a matter of fact, the Swiss should be involved in the R&D works.
The DARPA and USAF FALCON project might give anybody the thrill of speed as this « aerospacecraft » has been designed to reach Mach 20 i.e. around 20,000 km/h; 5.6 km/s; 10,800 knots; or 12,400 mph depending on the air temperature, and the altitude which might be above at least FL900!
Unfortunately, the project seems to encounter major difficulties as the last test which unfolded on August 11, 2011 failed again. The previous one – also on an HTV2 – had failed in April. Click on the right-hand side picture to get further information on the first test. The Blackswift (HTV-3X) had been designed by ATK; Boeing; Lockheed Martin; and Skunk Works to provided a strategic strike anywhere in the world within an hour. It was cancelled due to a lack of funds (see the HTV-3 shown in the following video):
DARPA stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
FALCON stands for Force Application and Launch from CONtinental United States
FL stands for Flight Level (FL x 100ft = altitude)
HTV stands for Hypersonic Test Vehicle or Hypersonic Technology Vehicle
RCS means here in the videos: Reaction Control System (and not Radar Cross Section)
Click on the picture below, and then on the blue arrows to watch the different phases of light:
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