U.S. Air Force Awards SpaceX A $102 Million Contract To Demonstrate Technologies To Transport Cargo For ‘Humanitarian Aid & Disaster Relief’

U.S. Air Force Awards SpaceX A $102 Million Contract To Demonstrate Technologies To Transport Cargo For ‘Humanitarian Aid & Disaster Relief’

Featured Image Source: U.S. Air Force 

On January 14, the U.S. Air Force awarded SpaceX a $102 Million contract to demonstrate technologies to transport cargo for "humanitarian aid and disaster relief," according to SpaceNews reporters who interviewed the Rocket Cargo Vanguard program manager Greg Spanjers. The program is part of the U.S. Space Force and the Air Force Research Laboratory joint effort to work with SpaceX to develop and assess the viability and utility of using heavy-lift commercial rockets for Department of Defense (DoD) global logistics. Under the program, SpaceX would transport cargo to point-to-point destinations on Earth, likely, with a Starship launch vehicle. The public contract award announcement does not provide any details about what rocket-ship SpaceX plans to use, however, the Air Force website features an image of a vehicle that sort of resembles a SpaceX Starship, as pictured above. 

In 2019, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell said the company was talking to the U.S. military about using Starship to deliver massive amounts of cargo in under 30-minutes anywhere around the world. SpaceX founder Elon Musk compares the Earth-to-Earth version of Starship to an intercontinental ballistic missile traveling at Mach 25, which is equivalent to 19,182 miles per hour! It would circle the Earth in minutes and land to deliver cargo. Long-term, SpaceX aims to use Starship for hypersonic passenger travel. Starship is actively under development at the Starbase facility in South Texas. The two-stage launch vehicle is set to become the world’s most powerful rocket. A gigantic Super Heavy rocket will be used to propel Starship to orbit, allowing it to transport up to 100 tons of cargo. The company is preparing to perform the first orbital Starship flight test this year, which will provide engineers with vital data to advance the launch system’s development. Their goal is to develop a fully-reusable rocket-ship, capable of reflight at least three times per day. 

“Rapid logistics underpins our ability to project power,” said General Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., Commander of Air Force Materiel Command when the program was announced in June 2021. “That is the fundamental motivation for initiating the Rocket Cargo program. We see its initial applications in swiftly restoring operational capability for forces forward in austere environments as well as dramatically reducing the time required to deliver crucial humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.” 

Featured Image Source: U.S. Air Force 

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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