Air Force to further investigate the use of commercial rockets to deliver cargo around the world
The Air Force, in its budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, requests $ 47.9 million for the “cargo rocket” project
WASHINGTON – The US Air Force plans to further study the potential use of commercial rockets to transport goods around the world.
According to Air Force budget documents, a project named “cargo rocket” was selected as one of the Air Force’s so-called Vanguard programs. These are research investments which the Air Force believes could provide useful capabilities in the future. Vanguard programs funded to date include artificial intelligence technologies, autonomous vehicles and navigation satellites.
The Air Force, in its budget proposal for fiscal year 2022, is seeking $ 47.9 million for the cargo rocket project. An Air Force spokesperson said an official announcement on the rocket cargo’s designation as the Vanguard program is expected this week.
The rocket-cargo program would continue work started last year when the Air Force signed agreements with SpaceX and Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc) to study concepts of rapid transport in space. The Air Force in 2021 spent $ 9.7 million on studies on the use of rockets for cargo deliveries.
The budget request states that the project in 2022 will research technologies from the commercial space industry as a whole and does not specify any companies. The Air Force wants to examine the benefits and challenges of using rockets to move 100 tons of cargo to any location in the world in less than an hour.
“The rocket cargo will demonstrate new trajectories and new ways of flying large rockets, the ability to land rockets in austere places, and to design and test an ejection capsule for air drop,” the request said. budget.
The funds would be used to fund prototypes for use in field experiments and testing in simulated environments.
The project description suggests that the Air Force is interested in exploring the capabilities of very large reusable space vehicles – like SpaceX’s spacecraft – for military transport.
“The Air Force Department seeks to leverage the current multi-billion dollar commercial investment to develop the largest rockets ever made, and with full reuse to develop and test the ability to operate a commercial rocket for deliver freight anywhere on Earth in less than an hour, with a capacity of 100 tonnes, ”the budget request said.
The Air Force explained that it does not plan to invest in the development of commercial rockets, but rather in technologies that would be needed to use commercial vehicles to meet specific military demands.
The cargo rocket project will use modeling and simulations to analyze the military utility, performance and cost of transporting airdrop cargoes or payloads.