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Blue Origin Joins Pentagon’s Rocket Cargo Program

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 30, 2021
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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.”

USTRANSCOM uses CRADAs to team industry, academia, and their specific technologies with DOD future thinkers to anticipate uses, feasibility, value, and costs. The rapid advances in commercial space transportation could provide an innovative option to shift the way the Department of Defense considers logistics response options.

On March 3, 2020, USTRANSCOM signed a CRADA with SpaceX. It allows for the collaborative investigation of using SpaceX’s commercial space transportation capabilities to expedite global delivery of DoD materiel and personnel.

USTRANSCOM signed another CRADA, on April 10, 2020, with XArc (Exploration Architecture Corporation), to help the command understand the potential and conditions needed to utilize commercial spaceports.

“We expect industry to provide the nation with a broad spectrum of space transportation options, and we seek to understand their value to DOD as they mature,” said Mewbourne. “So more partnerships may be in our future. Flexibility for the Defense Transportation System, using a variety of approaches like space transportation, which we now think will enhance our logistics mission assurance, is as strategically important as the personnel and tonnage we’re responsible to project and sustain globally.”

USTRANSCOM exists as a warfighting combatant command to project and sustain military power at a time and place of the nation’s choosing. Powered by dedicated men and women, USTRANSCOM underwrites the lethality of the Joint Force, advances American interests around the globe, and provides our nation’s leaders with strategic flexibility to select from multiple options, while creating multiple dilemmas for our adversaries.