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posted by Fnord666 on Monday June 07, @11:41PM   Printer-friendly
from the speedy-delivery dept.

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.

The US Military is Starting to Get Really Interested in Starship

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Immerman on Tuesday June 08, @03:08PM

    by Immerman (3985) on Tuesday June 08, @03:08PM (#1143151)

    Actually it's likely to be a relatively low-pollution option: They're burning an oxygen-rich methane blend, which pretty much means the exhaust is pure water vapor and CO2, with none of the nasty shit produced burning more complex hydrocarbons like jet fuel or [shudder] bunker fuel in ships. They're also spending most the trip coasting above the atmosphere, meaning they don't need to waste massive amounts of extra fuel fighting air resistance the whole way.

    As I recall, several people have run the numbers for the eventual sub-orbital passenger flights SpaceX has been touting, and determined that the CO2 emissions per passenger-mile would actually be less than for an intercontinental airplane flight. Potentially *much* less.

    It seems unlikely that they'd be synthesizing their own methane in the quantities needed for frequent flights, at least early on, but if they did that the whole flight would actually become carbon-neutral.

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