The Starship prototype SN10 fires its three Raptor engines when it lands.
The US Air Force is expanding a small development program that wants to use reusable rockets, such as the ones SpaceX builds, to deliver cargo quickly anywhere in the world.
The experimental military program called Rocket Cargo is being led by the US Space Force, the Pentagon announced on Friday. The program will explore and develop skills such as landing “a missile on a variety of non-traditional materials and surfaces,” constructing “a missile hold and logistics for rapid loading and unloading,” and “dropping cargo from the air” . Missile after reentry to serve places where a missile or plane is impossible to land, “the Air Force said.
The Air Force’s budget proposal for 2022 called for nearly $ 50 million for Rocket Cargoto continue the study conception begun last year with small contracts with SpaceX and Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc).
Rocket Cargo effectively describes the Starship missiles SpaceX is developing as the military program will examine fully reusable private missiles that can launch anywhere from 30 to 100 tons. In particular, SpaceX’s leadership in previous years has touted point-to-point space travel as one of Starship’s capabilities.
Point-to-point space travel is a form of transportation in which a rocket launches into space and then returns to another location, thereby hypothetically being able to move supplies or possibly people from one side of the earth to the other hour.
SpaceX tested prototypes of Starship at its facility in Texas and most recently landed and recovered the prototype SN15 after a high-altitude flight test. While SpaceX aims to accomplish a feat no previous rocket has achieved – quickly reusing rockets to remind space travel more of air travel rather than throwing the rocket away after launch – the final high-altitude test was the first to end without the Prototype explodes. The company has not yet reached orbit with the rocket.
Dr. Greg Spanjers, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Rocket Cargo program, cited NASA’s Human Landing Systems program competition as an example of companies working on “viable” options for rocket cargo capability. This NASA program, which focuses on building lunar landers that take crews to the lunar surface, consisted of three teams: led by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos ‘Blue Origin, and Leidos’ subsidiary Dynetics. But Spanjers said the Air Force had “spoken to a lot more companies than that” about the Rocket Cargo program.
“We spoke to a number of vendors that we see coming to the table to compete for these contracts,” Spanjers said at a press conference on Friday. “SpaceX is certainly the most visible, no question … [but] What you are trying to do is get into an orbital or suborbital trajectory, lower the payload again, and land on planet Earth. There are several companies today that have these technological capabilities, not just SpaceX. “
The Air Force declined to disclose which companies it spoke to about the Rocket Cargo program, and Spanjers said it was not “appropriate” before the Pentagon begins the contract process. The contract tender is due to start very soon, even though the Air Force declined an appointment.
Additionally, the Air Force stands ready to consider companies for Rocket Cargo that are not yet developing a fully reusable point-to-point capability.
“Today we will create the interfaces and the pathways to encourage more and more companies to enter this area. Hopefully they will see a return on investment in an EU-approved business case [Department of Defense] Expressed interest in buying the service later, “said Spanjers.
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