Earlier this week, Solar Ship announced it is challenging Lockheed Martin to a race between its solar powered Wolverine aircraft and Lockheed Martin’s hybrid airship.
The purpose of the challenge is to promote the benefits of hybrid aircraft which use two forms of lift: buoyancy like an airship and dynamic lift like an airplane. Lockheed Martin is the largest player in this space, while Solar Ship is a well-known leader in developing solar powered vehicles in this sector.
Both companies have been raising awareness about the benefits of connecting regions such as Canada’s north and Africa. A friendly race is being proposed to demonstrate what this technology can do to overcome the barriers of moving cargo to and from remote areas.
Solar Ship’s proposed challenge has two legs. The first flies for 3500 km from Johannesburg to Kampala along what is being called the Peace & Freedom Route seeking to promote long-term peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa – one of the most expensive transport routes in the world. The second leg flies 22,000 km from Lockheed’s training facility in Palmdale, CA north to the Arctic and south across Africa.
Solar Ship is a Canadian company with 50 employees located in Toronto, Ontario. It develops hybrid aircraft to service cut-off places. The aircraft uses two forms of lift: static lift, generated by buoyant gas, combined with the aerodynamic lift of a wing. This creates the capacity to fly large loads over long distances without the use of fossil fuels. It has extremely short takeoff and landing capabilities, making Solar Ship ideally suited for accessing remote areas. In 2014, Solar Ship demonstrated its ability to take off and land from a soccer field powered by 100% solar electric.
Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs approximately 98,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. In 2006, Lockheed Martin launched its P-791, a hybrid airship, which demonstrated the potential benefits of combining aerodynamic craft and the lifting capacity of buoyant craft.