USAF looks into commercial delivery of rocket-powered cargo
The US military is expanding an experimental program that may one day see the use of reusable rockets to move materials and equipment across the planet. Through , The Pentagon is moving forward on a project called Rocket Cargo where it will study spacecraft that can land on a variety of surfaces and aerial supplies after re-entering the atmosphere. The Air Force has requested in fiscal year 2022 to continue work on Rocket Cargo. Most of these funds would be used to pay for prototypes the ministry wants to field test and simulations.
The project “will demonstrate new trajectories and new ways of flying large rockets, the ability to land rockets in austere places and to design and test an ejection capsule for air drop,” the Air Force said in his budget proposal. “The Air Force Department seeks to leverage the current multi-billion dollar commercial investment to develop the largest rockets ever created, and with full reuse to develop and test the ability to operate a commercial rocket for deliver AF freight anywhere on Earth in under over an hour, with a capacity of 100 tonnes.
The document does not specifically mention SpaceX, but as CNBC points out, the company’s currently developing Starship heavy rocket is the best fit for what the military wants. He also worked with SpaceX, as well as Exploration Architecture Corporation, when he started working on the project last year. The thing is, Starship has, and only recently had success.
Either way, the military is keeping its options open. “We have spoken to a number of suppliers that we see potentially coming to the table to compete for these contracts,” said Dr. Greg Spanjers, head of research at Project Cargo on Friday. “SpaceX is certainly the most visible, there is no doubt… [but] what you’re trying to do is enter an orbital or suborbital path, bring the payload back down, and land it on planet earth. There are several companies that have this technological capability today, not just SpaceX. The military said it was also prepared to consider less obvious candidates, in part to spur more activity in space.