Deliveries from space ‘are going to happen’, and the US Defense Department must be ready to capitalise on the capability when it happens, the commander of the US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command told reporters last week.

US Air Force Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II said he is looking to space to enhance the American military’s global mobility and move at the speed of war.

Air Mobility Command needs rapid access to space, the general said, and he is working with private corporations to examine the ways forward.

“I just had a visit with SpaceX and Virgin Orbital,” he said. “They tell me they can get around the globe in 30 minutes with a Big Falcon Rocket.”

Using the rocket, the command could deliver 150 metric tons for less than the cost of a C-5 Galaxy transport jet delivery, he said.

Space is a new frontier for transportation, and private companies are developing technologies that are driving the costs of launches down, the general said. “What happens if we pre-position cargo in space?” he asked.

“I don’t have to use terrestrial means [to deliver it]. I can position it in space and have an automatic vehicle go up and come back down. I want to get around the globe quickest so I can affect that adversary. It is in its infancy stages, but I want to put mobility people in Space Command so they can learn space and I want space folks in Mobility Command. If we don’t do this and we stay in the air domain, Air Mobility Command will become irrelevant.”

Concepts Ready in Five Years

The general said he believes that the concepts can be ready within the next five years. “Within five years after that, it will be happening”, he said according to a release.

AMC has a future concept section that is looking closely at the capability, Everhart said, and US Air Force personnel are already looking to develop a concept of operations for mobility in space.

Air Mobility Command is an integral part of US Transportation Command and is a crucial enabler for all services and combatant commands. The United States is a superpower because the American military can deploy anywhere in the world and sustain those forces.

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Lewis (@guest_426967)
2 years ago

One of the few decisions trump has taken that I approve of has been to establish a space command. As technologies and assets develop it needs to become it’s own distinct branch. The air force will fight tooth and nail to keep it but if they do it wither on the vine as the air force prioritises areas below orbit. The American armed forces branches have always been massivly politicised and combative with each other and it’s ludicrous that an officer who has spent a few years in a jet and then the rest at a desk can also be… Read more »

fearlesstunafish (@guest_426969)
2 years ago
Reply to  Lewis

i always assumed space ships would be navy…… then again i guess that’s just cause that’s how it is in most sci-fi 😛

Steve M
Steve M (@guest_426978)
2 years ago

It’s a weird one this. “The General” focuses on the speed aspect: “They tell me they can get around the globe in 30 minutes with a Big Falcon Rocket.” without at all commenting on the cost. Even with the huge savings that companies like SpaceX have driven into the space sector it will still cost $62million per launch. How much does that C-5 Galaxy cost? $101k per hour, so say $1million for a decent length mission. Crazy.

Evan P
Evan P (@guest_426983)
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve M

You can tell from his tone that he doesn’t care. It sounds like an “I want this, I want that” kind of deal with him. Imagine if a high ranking officer talked like this here!

Steve M
Steve M (@guest_426989)
2 years ago
Reply to  Evan P

Seems that way. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should would be my motto.

reaper (@guest_426998)
2 years ago
Reply to  Evan P

they can afford it. simple as that.

Rob (@guest_427023)
2 years ago
Reply to  reaper

Can they? The US Treasury is forecasting a deficit of $833bn in 2018, that is £643bn. To put that into context the forecast UK total tax receipts in 2017/18 is £690bn.

It is just staggering and will not end well for them or the world economy.

reaper (@guest_427094)
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob

money isn’t real. it’s all a game. they will get what they want in the end, deficit or not. nobody is getting in America’s way and I rather wish we took a page out of their book.

Frank62 (@guest_427103)
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve M

Steve M- My thoughts exactly. Also more debris to come crashing down when they’re taken out while exiting/re-entering the atmosphere. We seem to have a habit of attempting what is Sci-fi before the technology or economics exist.

Steve M
Steve M (@guest_427112)
2 years ago
Reply to  Frank62

If they have to launch a rocket to go and retrieve it anyway, I don’t get why they just don’t eliminate the middle man so to speak and just send it over via said rocket. No need to leave the stuff hanging in low earth orbit, adding to the debris field.

Dave Dunlop
Dave Dunlop (@guest_427066)
2 years ago

Tell me this guy didn’t just say he can deliver 150MT of “what-ever” from space using a “Big Falcon Rocket” in 30 minutes, cheaper than a C-5 Galaxy flight? What is he smoking, ’cause I’d like some of that!! Space Marketing like going to the Super Market to pick up a dozen eggs, some milk and bread for the misses! I don’t think so. Not in my life-time anyway!!

IKnowNothing (@guest_427324)
2 years ago

Yeah right. They can get round the planet in 30 minutes. After taking twelve months to flight test the payload then cancelling the launch twice for technical reasons and then again because there’s a scary looking cloud near the launcher!

Jonathan (@guest_427712)
2 years ago

Let’s be honest the ability to deliver what is a really small payload in the most expensive and high risk way possible seems a bit ridiculous. maybe they are really looking at this for other purposes, quick and cheap launch of a disposable Intel gathering platform into low orbit, a loitering weapon system ect.