DARPA's Walrus and Griffith's War-Balloons

DARPA's Walrus program to develop and evaluate a very large airlift vehicle has moved forward; DARPA announced the contractors for the first phase of the program. Despite early descriptions of "war-balloons" in late nineteenth century science fiction, this isn't your father's (not to mention great-grandfather's) dirigible airship. According to DARPA's press release, "the Walrus aircraft will be a heavier-than-air vehicle and will generate lift through a combination of aerodynamics, thrust vectoring and gas buoyancy generation and management."


(Aeros Walrus Early Concept Design)

The two contractors receiving Walrus phase I awards are:

  • Lockheed Martin Corp., Advanced Development Programs, Palmdale, Calif., which will receive $2,989,779
  • Aeros Aeronautical Systems Corp., Tarzana, Calif., which will receive $3,267,000
According to DARPA:

A key goal of the Walrus program is to establish clear and credible solutions that provide confidence that earlier airship-era limitations will be overcome. In particular, an early focus of the program will be the investigation of advanced breakthrough technologies that will support the development of innovative lift and buoyancy concepts that do not rely on off-board ballast.

The Walrus operational vehicle (OV) is envisioned to have the primary operational task of deploying composite loads of personnel and equipment (for example, the components of an Army Unit of Action) ready to fight within six hours after disembarking the aircraft. Walrus will operate without significant infrastructure and from unimproved landing sites, including rough ground having nominal five-foot-high obstacles. It is intended to carry a payload of more than 500 tons 12,000 nautical miles in less than seven days at a competitive cost. Additionally, Walrus will be capable of performing theater lift and supporting sea-basing and persistence missions to meet a range of multi-Service needs.

The idea of using enormous dirigibles for heavy lifting in warfare is not a new idea. In his forgotten 1893 classic The Angel of the Revolution, George Griffith wrote about a coming World War fought with air-ships and war-balloons:

...The war-balloons were to be kept for purposes of transportation of heavy articles to Aeria, while the fleet of air-ships was to remain the sole effective fighting force in the world.
(Read more about war-balloons)

Read the DARPA Walrus press release, see the Aeros Walrus description and take a look at a draft copy of DARPA Walrus solicitation (linked from this page). And I put a copy of a picture of the Thunderbird 2, a very similar fictional craft, in the comments.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/7/2005)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 9 )

Related News Stories - (" Transportation ")

Calling Google's RoboTaxi
'The taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings...'- Allan Dean Foster, 2006.

Hyperloop Transport Proposed By Tesla's Elon Musk
'...an hollow tube must be constructed the whole distance... of such dimensions as to admit a four wheeled carriage...'- George Medhurst, 1812.

Evacuated Tube Transport Idea Is 200 Years Old This Year!
Take a look at the financial calculations behind this idea; one-tenth the cost of high-speed rail!

myTaxi iPhone App May Transform Taxi Business
Let's start combining these modern developments to get the services we want.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Oak Ridge To Pay For The (Giant, Superfast 3D) Printer
'Can your Biltong print for more than a hundred people?'

Race Into The Future With Bionic Boots
'The tremendous loping strides afforded by such devices... '

Linux Robot Masters Automatic Charging
'Then it appeared to make up its mind, and trundled over to a wall socket...'

PR2 Robot Dominates In Laundry Room
Where are the robots who will pick up discarded clothes?

Do You Want A Tablet Computer? Or, Fad Over?
'He would plug his foolscap-sized Newspad into the ship's information circuit'

First Person Video Flying Parrot Bebop Drone Video
'Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight...'

XPrize's Diamandis Implants RFID Tag In Hand
'People in Manhattan have replaced their Freedom Card with a radio-frequency chip about the size of a vitamin pill.'

Lightpaper Way Thinner Than OLED
'You have this on Siwenna?'

Foodini 3D Printer
''...Food slot gave him flat reddish-brown bricks.'

Parrot Bebop Drone Pairs With Your Smartphone
'Over a radius of several miles Sonya's raytron apparatus could direct its flight [using] an image of all that the lens eye saw.'

SCRIBE Enables Distributed Genomically Encoded Memory
Genomic DNA for analog, rewritable, and flexible memory.

Artisanal 3D Printing By Martha Stewart
'Nanofax AG offers a technology that digitally reproduces objects, physically, at a distance.'

Knightscope Robot Security Guards Ready
'A robot guard appeared, streaking toward them across the field.'

Bullet-Proof Kevlar Woven Electronics
'Check the watch imprinted on his sleeve...'

USAF 'BATMAN' Wrist Display
'The tiny screen in the bracelet's center...'

CoBots - Collaborative Robots Ask Humans For Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify... You give it a good look.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.