It seems that the U.S. Air Force (USAF) didn’t get the memo about the pandemic and ongoing climate crisis that are threatening the global economy and environment. If it had, maybe it wouldn’t have partnered with rocket maker Space X to see if it can blast military goods around the world on space ships. Or, well, it probably still would.
That’s right — according to the USAF, the latest totally valid use of taxpayer dollars is to try to fly military tech around the world on Space X rockets. Obviously.
And somehow, this is only a little bit less weird than that old plan to deploy troops inside IBMs. Yeah. That happened.
According to the US Department of Defense, rocket firm and excellent toilet manufacturer Space X has been awarded a $102 million contract from the Air Force Research Laboratory for a five-year project to investigate “rocket cargo.” And yes, that’s the extent of the explanation from the government.
Initially reported by online outlet Space News, the impressive budget will allow Space X and the USAF to look into the feasibility of using heavy rockets to transport military cargo and humanitarian aid across the globe.
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The tie in between the American military and Musk’s space exploration firm is all part of the ambitious rocket cargo project, which was announced by the USAF in June last year.
At the time of its announcement, chief of space operations, general John W. “Jay” Raymond, said in a statement:
“Once realized, rocket cargo will fundamentally alter the rapid logistics landscape, connecting materiel to joint warfighters in a fraction of the time it takes today.
“In the event of conflict or humanitarian crisis, the Space Force will be able to provide our national leadership with an independent option to achieve strategic objectives from space.”
But why use a rocket instead of a plane or drone? Well, the USAF tried answering that, but instead made it sound like this could all just be a colossal waste of money:
“Delivering cargo via rocket transportation is not a new concept. Historically the high costs of launch have been prohibitive for a logistics-focused application, and the relatively small payload capability constrained the types of cargo that could be delivered, also limiting its suitability.”
Ah, yes. The classic "we'll just avoid answering your question by making things all the more perplexing" response. Classic government.
Despite these shortcomings, the Air Force believes new, reusable rocket tech could expand cargo capacity and reduce launch costs. It didn’t mention the environmental impacts of such practices.
So, with five years and $102 million dollars to spend, what will the US military manage to ship round the world? And, once all the experiments are over, what are the chances it wishes it just bought another plane instead?