On Tuesday, SpaceX was awarded a 5-year $102 million contract by The Air Force Research Laboratory to explore possibilities of rocket transport of military supplies.
As part of the Rocket Cargo Program, Space News reported that SpaceX will aid the Air Force in enhancing the speed of US Department of Defense planning while also delivering humanitarian aid and disaster relief all over the world.
Greg Spanjers, the manager of the program, emphasized this stating that SpaceX will “determine exactly what a rocket can achieve when used for cargo transport, what is the true capacity, speed, and cost of the integrated system,” and that the Air Force is, “very interested in the ability to deliver the cargo anywhere on Earth to support humanitarian aid and disaster relief.”
The contract does not list which vehicle they plan to use or when tests will commence. Though, Starship Super-Heavy is the only launch vehicle owned by SpaceX that is built for point-to-point travel, Tech Times reports. Until then, the US Air Force will have access to commercial launches and their data. When it comes to delivering disaster relief, they will explore various landing options since there is no direct connection between military bases and the people who need it.
“We are therefore exploring a wider range of novel trajectories to mitigate overflight issues, exploring a broad range of landing options for austere sites, researching human factors when landing near populations, and integrating a broader range of cargo including medical supplies,” Greg Spanjers said.
To expand the Rocket Cargo Program, Spanjers brought up their plan to involve other commercial space transportation companies. This is very reminiscent of SpaceX’s moon mission deal with NASA that led to a lawsuit with Blue Origin. Blue Origin’s claims of NASA’s “unlawful and improper evaluation of proposals” and safety concerns over SpaceX’s “high-risk” launch system were unfounded.