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posted by martyb on Tuesday June 01, @09:17PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the logistics++ dept.

The US military is starting to get really interested in Starship:

As part of last week's federal budget rollout, a process during which the White House proposes funding levels for fiscal year 2022, the US Air Force released its "justification book" to compare its current request to past budget data. The 462-page book contains a lot of information about how the Air Force spends its approximately $200 billion budget.

For those tracking the development of SpaceX's ambitious Starship vehicle, there is an interesting tidbit tucked away on page 305, under the heading of "Rocket Cargo" (see .pdf). The Air Force plans to invest $47.9 million into this project in the coming fiscal year, which begins October 1.

"The Department of the Air Force seeks to leverage the current multi-billion dollar commercial investment to develop the largest rockets ever, and with full reusability to develop and test the capability to leverage a commercial rocket to deliver AF cargo anywhere on the Earth in less than one hour, with a 100-ton capacity," the document states.

Starship, more than just an expensive ride. Quick military equipment delivery en route.


Original Submission

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Yes, the Military is Serious About Rocketing Supplies Around the Planet 35 comments

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/06/the-military-wants-to-use-rockets-for-cargo-delivery-anywhere-on-earth/

The Air Force confirmed a strong interest in delivery of cargo around the world—by rockets—during an hourlong conference call with reporters on Friday. Military officials said they were elevating the cargo initiative to become the newest "Vanguard Program," indicating a desire to move the concept from an experimental state into an operational capability.

"This idea has been around since the dawn of spaceflight," said Dr. Greg Spanjers, an Air Force scientist and the Rocket Cargo Program Manager. "It's always been an intriguing idea. We've looked at it about every 10 years, but it's never really made sense. The reason we're doing it now is because it looks like technology may have caught up with a good idea."

Ars first reported about the "Rocket Cargo" program in the Air Force's budget request on Monday. As part of its $200 billion annual budget, the Air Force is seeking $47.9 million to leverage emerging commercial rocket capabilities to launch cargo from one location and land elsewhere on Earth.

During Friday's call, the officials explained what they're looking for in more depth. "Fundamentally, a rocket can get around the world in 90 minutes, and an airplane cannot," Spanjers said.

Previously:
The US Military is Starting to Get Really Interested in Starship


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  • (Score: 0, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:05PM (11 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:05PM (#1140862)

    Because incoming sub-orbital cargo launches, in time of war, would never be confused for anything else...

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday June 01, @10:08PM

      SpaceX announces nuclear rocket engine project

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    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:17PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:17PM (#1140867)

      The flight profile is completely different* from an ICBM and this isn't something you'd send directly into combat. Just being able to move vital supplies and ammunition from the US directly to your rear lines for distribution is enough to be worthwhile.

      *High-g/low delta-v/steep entry for missiles and low-g/high delta-v/flat entry for Starship.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by sgleysti on Wednesday June 02, @01:46AM

      by sgleysti (56) on Wednesday June 02, @01:46AM (#1140912)

      Welcome to Intercontinental Ballistic Mail!

      Please check the box on the form to indicate that you are not shipping anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous, including lithium batteries and perfume.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @06:08AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @06:08AM (#1140967)

      Humanity is either wiped out or reset to the stone age within 100 years, and there's nothing that will stop it. Everything is too little, too late now, and I don't see a way out. Maybe there is one, but it's looking pretty grim right now.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @06:14AM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @06:14AM (#1140968)

        Apparently living with existing country borders and getting along is just too wild an idea.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @03:10PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @03:10PM (#1141059)

          It seems that Russia, China, and half of the middle east need some breathing room. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday June 02, @03:37PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday June 02, @03:37PM (#1141072) Journal

      Because incoming sub-orbital cargo launches, in time of war, would never be confused for anything else...

      And?

      You don't think anybody actually gave a shit about getting to the moon, do you?

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Tuesday June 01, @10:07PM

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:09PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:09PM (#1140865)

    Even if they are mainly limited to travel between established bases the ability to quickly move 100t at once from any base in the world to any other on short notice is huge. In a war it allows them to quickly reinforce and resupply a threatened theatre or rapidly concentrate for an offensive. In peace it supports timely response for disaster relief even in remote areas. Any one of these on its own would be well worth investigating and preparing plans for how and when to use it. All together it is invaluable.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:42PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:42PM (#1140873)

      100 tons of chipped beef on toast.

      • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Tuesday June 01, @11:08PM (1 child)

        by Osamabobama (5842) on Tuesday June 01, @11:08PM (#1140882)

        It sounds gross when you put it like that, but then I think that it will be for a lot of people who need chipped beef on toast, and will need more than one meal. So if we think of it as enough chipped beef on toast to supply 10,000 people with multiple weeks worth of food, then it still sounds pretty gross.

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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @11:53PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @11:53PM (#1140891)

          Indians love their beef . . .

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Tuesday June 01, @10:47PM (3 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 01, @10:47PM (#1140875) Homepage Journal

      In peace it supports timely response for disaster relief even in remote areas.

      Interesting thought there. How much support is essential to land that big honkin' thing, and then take off again? If they need nothing more than an undamaged concrete pad the size of a baseball field, then they could put a recovery team at the epicenter of a major earthquake. A scouting team would probably go in first to find that pad, unless they are confident that starship can find the pad on it's own.

      Then again, in an area with a lot of solid bedrock, no concrete would be necessary.

      Unloading 100 tons of men and equipment without any infrastructure support might be a bitch. No problem though, soldiers, sailors, and airmen love to bitch. ;^)

      All of this seems to presume that a starship is kept on standby, with rescue supplies already loaded, or on hand, ready to load.

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      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Catalyst on Tuesday June 01, @11:15PM (1 child)

        by Catalyst (7542) on Tuesday June 01, @11:15PM (#1140883)

        Why not keep a handful in orbit? Would work well for relief supplies, but it's fairly costly to do that. The military might pay for in orbit ammo and supply packs though. This also completely overlooks the fact that starship is finally gonna make it cheap enough to put kinetic kill devices in orbit - all the destructive power of a nuke and none of that pesky radiation left behind.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @04:16PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @04:16PM (#1141096)

          Even sitting in a hangar on the ground a Starship can be anywhere in the world in under two hours, but one already in orbit would spend an average of six hours waiting for a landing window. One in orbit is also committed as to what supplies it is carrying and it can't carry troops or relief workers. Parking in orbit also means long term radiation exposure for whatever you are carrying. Keeping a few near existing supply bases is much simpler.

          KKVs have been affordable since Falcon 9 was first introduced if not earlier. The reason nobody has any is because of international treaties banning them.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @04:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @04:04PM (#1141088)

        The Mars and Moon versions of Starship are designed to land on an unprepared field and unload unaided. You'd need a better hoist and maybe better landing gear to do that on Earth but I'm sure the military can afford the upgrades. You'd probably want to fly in a ground team for landing site selection and security but fast deployment is something Navy Seals and Deltaforce already do.

        A Starship should be ready for launch in under an hour, including loading cargo, if the launch site is fully equipped. A 100t pallet would be interesting to handle but 10x 10t pallets could be loaded in a reasonable time frame and offers greater flexibility. A half dozen rockets in storage at each of two to four sites around the US would probably be plenty and if they are intended for wartime use then they will want that capability on hand anyway.

        The hardest part will be refuelling to fly it home afterwards. You don't need a full load of fuel for a hop to the nearest military base but that is still a lot of work. Starship is also pretty cheap as rockets go so the question is if it is cheaper to haul fuel to it or just buy a new one.

  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:16PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @10:16PM (#1140866)

    That'll wipe the smile off Mohammed al-Jihadi.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @11:53PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 01, @11:53PM (#1140890)

      I like that, especially if the pigs land going Mach 10.

      Just one pig would be pretty good though. That box in the the middle of Mecca is actually a small stone building. There is a window hidden underneath the black silk covering. If you put a precision-guided munition seeker on the nose of a pig, you might just be able to steer a pig through that window. It would be funny as Hell.

  • (Score: 2, Touché) by fustakrakich on Tuesday June 01, @10:43PM

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Tuesday June 01, @10:43PM (#1140874) Journal

    Give too much money to Musk and Bezos will complain, and the military will have to make two contracts.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by looorg on Wednesday June 02, @12:29AM (2 children)

    by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 02, @12:29AM (#1140898)

    Every branch has their transport, that space force was going to want starships and rockets should not come as a surprise.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Wednesday June 02, @12:43AM (1 child)

      Space Force doesn't have much cargo or Space Marines to transport yet. They're more Chair Force than the Air Force ever was.

      The U.S. Army might become a big user of Starship. [spacenews.com]

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      • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday June 02, @01:02AM

        by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 02, @01:02AM (#1140904)

        But they WANT to have Space Marines. So they'll need something cool to attract them. So when you are standing there at the recruitment office and GI Joe tells you that you can go in boats, and helicopters or a SPACESHIP it just doesn't become much of a competition does it?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @02:22AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @02:22AM (#1140924)

    No one has said this yet?

    • (Score: 2) by looorg on Wednesday June 02, @02:47AM (1 child)

      by looorg (578) on Wednesday June 02, @02:47AM (#1140928)

      They'll need something to go in if they plan an invasion of Klendathu.

      • (Score: 4, Funny) by coolgopher on Wednesday June 02, @08:10AM

        by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 02, @08:10AM (#1140975)

        Yeah but anyone who ends up there will want to bug out asap.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @09:36AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, @09:36AM (#1140991)

    You see a vehicle to Mars, I see a big, big, fat bomb.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday June 03, @04:05PM

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday June 03, @04:05PM (#1141483) Journal

      They've already got the single use bomb/missile thing down. What they're interested in is extremely quick delivery of supplies and/or assets to a conflict zone. Or as someone else pointed out, to a conflict zone where we won't initiate WW3/Nuclear Armageddon for sending something that looks like an ICBM.

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