The F-35 program office has completed static structural testing—conducted over the last two years by Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and the F-35 Joint Program Office—as a means to verify the structural integrity of the airframe and to ensure technical information associated with the airframe is accurate, announced Lockheed Monday at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor just outside Washington, D.C. The successful completion marks the end of one of five milestones established by the JPO for 2011. “As one of our major program milestones, the completion of static structural testing demonstrates the significant progress that we’re making on our joint mission to field this fifth generation air combat capability,” said Larry Lawson, Lockheed Martin executive vice president and general manager of the F-35 program, in a company release. “These successful tests bring us one step closer to delivering the F-35 into the hands of the men and women of our US and allied forces.”
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.