Steampunk becomes Reality - British Firm Orders 12 Cargo Airship

Lockheed Martin has invested company money into creating a new class of large lighter-than-air cargo-lifters. And now a new British company, a spin-off from Richard Branson's Virgin empire, has given them their first commercial order, for 12 of them.

Apparently these things are intended to carry heavy cargoes into hard-to-reach areas, for example mining or oil-drilling equipment into remote parts of Alaska, Northern Canada or Siberia that have no roads or airstrips. There's a secondary passenger configuration too, that will probably be used to take work-crews into those isolated locations.

They will be filled with helium (not hydrogen) and will have such low internal pressure that they can continue flying with holes in them. They don't have wheels, but landing pads instead, which enables them to land on things like arctic sea ice. Vehicles can be driven in and out using ramps.

Everyone is hoping this succeeds, since it would be very cool to see these things moving majestically through the sky (their cruising speed is about 100 mph).

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Lockheed Martin needs to continue more of this, diversifying beyond just their military products and clients, which still compose over 75% of their sales. Back when they were competing with Boeing to win the so-called "X-plane" contract (now apparently the F-35 Lightning II), some of their talking heads remarked that it was either win that 200-billion to potential trillion-dollar deal or else the company would probably perish. While that was probably exaggerated, it was sufficiently ominous that their engineers exhausted themselves trying to ensure that an over-complicated design was free of problems enough to genuinely have the performance edge over the rival Boeing tech strategy.
Get ready for another major UFO flap! Smile

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