The US Department of Defense (DoD) has had discussions with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to potentially use rockets to rapidly deploy military personnel and cargo across the planet, documents show.
Specifically, the Pentagon has been investigating the possibility of using SpaceX’s upcoming Starship rocket — a super-heavy lift vehicle designed to perform long-distance spaceflight — for point-to-point military transport directly from the United States.
This is according to a research agreement between the US Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) and SpaceX which was obtained by The interception via a Freedom of Information Act request and published this month.
It’s no secret that US defense officials have already considered using SpaceX technology for military logistics missions.
In 2020, an Air Force press release stated that USTRANSCOM had partnered with SpaceX to explore “the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour according to US Army General Stephen Lyons.
“For the past 75 years or so, we’ve been forced to about 40,000 feet in altitude and 600 miles per hour in our fastest method of logistics delivery,” USTRANSCOM’s deputy commander said at the time. Dee Mewbourne.
However, the recently released documents go into more detail about the possibility of using SpaceX rockets as well as the associated benefits, including that they could provide faster response times than using airplanes; support the US military presence in Africa; and “deterring non-state actors from aggressive acts toward the United States”.
Two of the objectives of the research agreement are to “study the technical feasibility of using SpaceX’s Starship launch system over the next five years to meet the DoD’s global logistics transportation needs” and “to forecast the costs of using the SpaceX Starship to deliver DoD cargo and personnel over the next 5-10 years and compare them to current transport capabilities.”
Several sections of the report were redacted, including information about the cost of using SpaceX’s spacecraft for military purposes.
The report also noted issues with the nascent commercial space industry, including a lack of clarity on “if and how vehicles are subject to established aviation laws and to what extent, if any, these laws follow them. in space for point-to-point space”. transportation.”
The report is largely devoid of explicit details about what the Starship-based military transport would look like and how it would work. Moreover, it is unclear how remote such a possibility might be.
SpaceX has not yet conducted a test flight of the first full-scale version of Starship, as the Federal Aviation Administration only recently granted environmental approval for orbital launches from the company’s site in the south. from Texas. Earlier this month, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted that Starship would be “ready to fly” in July.