SpaceX Receives $102 Million Contract for Military Rocket Cargo Delivery

The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has awarded SpaceX a $102 million contract to provide more concrete data on how the company’s reusable Super Heavy/Starship vehicles could be used to rapidly deliver cargo to remote locations on Earth. C4ISRNET reports:

The U.S. Air Force in its fiscal 2022 budget request designated the program one of AFRL’s Vanguard efforts, boosting its profile as a potentially transformational technology. [Program manager Greg] Spanjers told C4ISRNET in an email this week the program represents “a big-bet [science and technology] investment,” noting its designation as a Vanguard effort is a recognition it could offer a “game-changing capability.”

To date, AFRL has awarded several Rocket Cargo contracts for analytics, landing material research, wind tunnel sensors and command-and-control systems development, but this week’s award to SpaceX is the first deal with a launch vehicle provider. According to Spanjers, the lab is engaged with other launch providers and will consider awarding additional contracts later in the program.

Spanjers said the SpaceX work is focused in four areas: collecting data from commercial orbital launches and landings; exploring cargo bay designs compatible with U.S. Transportation Command containers and support rapid loading and unloading; researching landing systems that can operate on a variety of terrain; and demonstrating the heavy cargo launch and landing process.

Blue Origin Joins Pentagon’s Rocket Cargo Program

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Dec. 29, 2021 (USTRANSCOM PR) — U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) entered into its third cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA), on December 17, 2021, with Blue Origin to explore the possibility of someday using rockets to transport cargo and people.

“Today, industry is energetically shaping space into a practical transportation mode–a trustworthy complement to our traditional global mobility options,” explained Vice Admiral Dee Mewbourne, Deputy Commander, USTRANSCOM. “Not every operation will call for logistics through space, but when we need to respond faster, or assure access in challenging environments, we recognize that space now offers a toolkit, not just a concept. At USTRANSCOM, we want our understanding of space transportation’s potential to keep pace with the technical and operational realities that are being built now.”

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U.S. Military Partners with SpaceX to Explore Using Starship for Point to Point Travel

Starship lifts off on a point to point flight. (Credit: SpaceX)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (USTRANSCOM PR) – While speaking at the National Defense Transportation Association’s Fall Meeting on Oct. 7, U.S. Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), announced USTRANSCOM is looking to space to quickly move critical logistics during time-sensitive contingencies or to deliver humanitarian assistance, helping to project and sustain the Joint Force in support of national objectives.

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