Author Topic: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo  (Read 3946 times)

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Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« on: 06/04/2021 07:33 pm »
See also this thread: https://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=53989

https://afresearchlab.com/news/department-of-the-air-force-announces-fourth-vanguard-program/

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DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE ANNOUNCES FOURTH VANGUARD PROGRAM

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs  Published Jun 4, 2021

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – The Department of the Air Force announced June 4 the designation of Rocket Cargo as the fourth Vanguard program as part of its transformational science and technology portfolio identified in the DAF 2030 Science and Technology strategy for the next decade. Additionally, the U.S. Space Force was designated as the lead service for Rocket Cargo Vanguard, marking the service’s first such program.

Under the Rocket Cargo Vanguard, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) will lead a science and technology effort to determine the viability and utility of using large commercial rockets for Department of Defense global logistics, potentially expanding the portfolio of capabilities the USSF presents to combatant commanders. The Space and Missile Systems Center will serve as the Program Executive Officer.

AFRL will research and develop the unique aspects needed to leverage the new commercial capability for the DoD logistics mission. This includes the ability to land a rocket on a wide range of non-traditional materials and surfaces, including at remote sites. In addition, AFRL scientists and engineers will research the ability to safely land a rocket near personnel and structures, engineer a rocket cargo bay and logistics for rapid loading and unloading, and air drop cargo from the rocket after re-entry in order to service locations where a rocket or aircraft cannot possibly land.

“The Air Force has provided rapid global mobility for decades and Rocket Cargo is a new way the Department can explore complimentary capabilities for the future,” said Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth. “Vanguard initiatives lead to game-changing breakthroughs that preserve our advantage over near-peer competitors, and this latest addition is also a significant milestone as the first Vanguard evaluated under the Space Force’s oversight.”

Based on the advertised commercial capability and business objectives, the AFRL is currently assessing emerging rocket capability across the commercial vendor base, and its potential use for quickly transporting DoD materiel to ports across the globe.

“The Rocket Cargo Vanguard is clear example of how the Space Force is developing innovative solutions as a service, in particular the ability to provide independent options in, from, and to space,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond. “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.”

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. Today several commercial companies are quickly generating new opportunities by developing large rockets and reusable stages that safely land back on earth, expanding cargo capacity and dramatically reducing launch costs.

“Rapid logistics underpins our ability to project power,” said Gen. Arnold W. Bunch, Jr., Air Force Materiel Command commander. “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.”

Under the new Rocket Cargo Vanguard, the DAF will seek to leverage these commercial advances and position the DoD to be an early adopter of the new commercial capability. This approach is a marked departure from the past, where the U.S. government led rocket technology development and bore the brunt of the cost. Today, with the commercial space launch providers developing the advanced rockets, the DAF will instead primarily invest in the S&T needed to quickly adapt the capability to the DoD logistics missions, and then be the first customer procuring the new commercial capability through service leases.

The military utility of the new capability includes support to the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) resupply mission, with faster delivery and potentially at lower cost. AFRL is closely partnered with USTRANSCOM to assess the trade space of a potential Rocket Cargo capability for global logistics, including potential improvements in delivery cost and speed compared to existing air cargo operations. Potential mission applications include Special Airlift to deliver equipment needed to quickly restore a loss of mission operations, and humanitarian aid and disaster relief payloads to stricken areas.

Rocket Cargo joins three current Vanguard programs, including Skyborg (an initiative to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) with autonomous Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) to enable manned-unmanned teaming); NTS-3 (a flight experiment to examine and field capabilities across the ground, space and user segments to enhance space-based positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT)); and Golden Horde (an initiative to demonstrate collaborative autonomous networked weapons by creating an integrated weapon system where different technologies work together to defeat targets).

Vanguard programs rapidly advance emerging weapon systems and warfighting concepts through prototyping and experimentation. With these programs, the DAF aims to deliver game changing new operational capabilities that provide warfighters with superior advantages on the battlefield in the next decade.

Image caption:

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Rocket Cargo would enable rapid delivery of aircraft-size payloads for agile global logistics such as urgent humanitarian assistance and disaster response. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Randy Palmer)
« Last Edit: 06/10/2021 01:37 am by Lar »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #1 on: 06/04/2021 07:37 pm »
https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1400890473225523201

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Yes, the military really is interested in using rockets to move cargo quickly around the world—especially 30 to 100 tons. Pretty big news for SpaceX, and maybe Blue Origin too.

https://arstechnica.com/science/2021/06/the-military-wants-to-use-rockets-for-cargo-delivery-anywhere-on-earth/


https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1400895232611434501

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It's DEFINITELY NOT Starship though. The military officials wanted to be clear about this. There are many companies working on reusable rockets capable of delivering 100 tons around the planet. No really. Seriously. SpaceX is just one of many potential providers. ONE OF MANY!

twitter.com/abamd/status/1400895633494528000

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Whatever they need to say to keep Congress from interfering.

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1400895864080670727

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yep
« Last Edit: 06/04/2021 07:47 pm by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline RotoSequence

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #2 on: 06/04/2021 08:13 pm »
A Venture Star derivative seems like it would be a good fit for this program.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #3 on: 06/04/2021 09:47 pm »
Definitely Not Starship. But its only RLV in development that can provide this service.
Unless there is major war I don't see DoD using rockets for cargo delivery.

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Offline su27k

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #4 on: 06/05/2021 10:17 am »
https://spacenews.com/air-force-using-commercial-rockets-to-deliver-supplies-not-as-far-fetched-as-it-sounds/

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Spanjers [manager of the rocket cargo program] was asked repeatedly by reporters to identify what commercial launch vehicles besides SpaceX’s Starship could possibly meet the rocket cargo requirements.

 “We don’t see SpaceX as being the only viable provider of this capability,” he said, declining to name other companies. Spanjers suggested that any company developing lunar lander vehicles for NASA could adapt them so they could land in austere terrains on Earth and drop off cargo.

The vehicles would have to go into an orbital or a suborbital trajectory to bring the payload back down and land it, Spanjers said. “There are multiple companies that have that technological capability today, not just SpaceX.”

Offline docmordrid

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #5 on: 06/05/2021 06:38 pm »
Yup, definitely not only Starship 🤪

CNBC...

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>
Called Rocket Cargo, the experimental military program will be led by the U.S. Space Force, the Pentagon said. The program will research and help develop capabilities such as landing "a rocket on a wide range of non-traditional materials and surfaces," engineering "a rocket cargo bay and logistics for rapid loading and unloading" and air-dropping "cargo from the rocket after re-entry in order to service locations where a rocket or aircraft cannot possibly land."
>
Rocket Cargo effectively describes the Starship rockets that SpaceX is developing, as the military program will look at fully reusable private rockets that can launch between 30 and 100 tons. Currently, Starship is the only rocket in development that plans to both be reused and can both launch that much mass.
>
« Last Edit: 06/05/2021 06:43 pm by docmordrid »
DM

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #6 on: 06/05/2021 08:09 pm »
twitter.com/djsnm/status/1401262238883717122

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I don’t see the DoD’s investigation of point to point rocket transportation to amount to much in the short term. It’s studying commercial vehicles and while there’s unlikely to be technological showstoppers with starship the utility is niche and starship isn’t designed for this.

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1401263696509349888

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Disagree. The military officials seemed pretty fired up yesterday. Sounds like they were ready to support test flights, etc. If Starship progresses I think "actual funding" may follow pretty quickly.

twitter.com/rodgersda/status/1401263943566475270

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There’s a decent argument for it, my only issue would be removing the payload from a remote launch site off of a 50 meter tall behemoth

https://twitter.com/sciguyspace/status/1401264200916377601

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I think that's one of the reasons why the first area of investment will be in "loadmaster" technology.

Offline RON_P

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #7 on: 06/05/2021 08:26 pm »

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #8 on: 06/07/2021 07:45 am »
Scott Manley had good video on this.

One issue not discussed is what happens to empty rocket. Even if airforce has paid for it, manufacturers don't want it sitting around intact in potentially enemy territory where it can be strip and dissected. Blowing it up maybe not enough to destroy some parts.

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Offline LiamS

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #9 on: 06/07/2021 03:14 pm »
Scott Manley had good video on this.

One issue not discussed is what happens to empty rocket. Even if airforce has paid for it, manufacturers don't want it sitting around intact in potentially enemy territory where it can be strip and dissected. Blowing it up maybe not enough to destroy some parts.

Sent from my SM-T810 using Tapatalk

I suppose they could run the engines very fuel rich to intentionally destroy them, that might make any recovered engines harder to replicate. I suppose if rocket cargo delivery is used to the extent that the air force seems interested it will only be a matter of time before an engine falls into non-US hands.

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #10 on: 06/08/2021 03:17 pm »
https://twitter.com/thesheetztweetz/status/1402282834019160065

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It sounds like Relativity is one of those other companies the Pentagon talked to about the Rocket Cargo program:

CEO Tim Ellis: "Point-to-point space transportation is an interesting market that we're looking at" with Terran R. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/06/08/relativity-space-raises-650-million-for-3d-printed-spacex-competitor.html

Offline gongora

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #11 on: 06/08/2021 03:24 pm »
https://twitter.com/Free_Space/status/1401908553749876738
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Can the US military make use of heavy-lift, point-to-point commercial rocket technology? Inquiring minds want to know--https://sam.gov/opp/a6069fa144164a67981ce672a6c42886/view #rocketcargo (thanks @TheDEWLine )

https://sam.gov/opp/a6069fa144164a67981ce672a6c42886/view
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FA8650-21-S-9307

The Department of the Air Force (DAF) is exploring point-to-point space transportation capability for DOD logistics. Based on the advertised commercial capability and business objectives for point-to-point space transportation, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is currently assessing emerging commercial rocket capability under the DAF Rocket Cargo Vanguard program, and the potential to quickly transport DOD materiel to ports across the globe. To this end, the Rocket Experimentation for Global Agile Logistics (REGAL) program will explore the use of commercially-advertised rocket launch systems for rapid point-to-point (PTP) space transportation and agile global logistics. The goal is to field a capability that can deliver DoD cargo anywhere on the planet in less than one hour through service-type contracts similar to agreements DoD uses today with commercial airlines.  Expected missions include emergency resupply to restore loss of mission capability, humanitarian relief, disaster relief, and ultimately routine and affordable transport of cargo to select DOD ports across the world. No funding will be invested in developing commercial rocket systems. Please refer to the Advanced Research Announcement (ARA) attachment for additional information.

The ARA does not solicit proposals. Individual requirements known as “Call(s) for Proposals” will be issued against the ARA. Each Call for Proposals will contain the specific requirements and proposal submission dates. Unless otherwise stated in a specific Call, all other requirements are listed within the ARA.

This initial announcement includes two (2) Calls for Proposals. Call 001 "Point-to-Point Capability and Operational Demonstrations" and Call 002 "Point-to-Point Rocket Demonstrations". Please refer to each respective attachment for additional information regarding specific requirements.

Offerors should be alert for any ARA updates or future Call(s) for Proposals solicited as an amendment to this notice. This ARA shall remain open until 1 July 2027.

Offline Hyperborealis

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #12 on: 06/08/2021 03:50 pm »
Could someone clarify for me what the Call for Proposal program award pays for? The DoD is willing to fund up to 20 proposals at a limit of $25 million each. The applicant writes a white paper, and if selected, a proposal. Is the $25M for just the proposal? for demonstrated work toward the achievement of the Call for Proposal's objectives? or payable when the applicant can offer service that fulfills these objectives?

Offline Yiosie

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #13 on: 12/30/2021 07:22 am »
Cross-post:

Blue Origin joins U.S. military ‘rocket cargo’ program

Quote from: SpaceNews
Blue Origin has signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. military to explore the possibility of someday using its rockets to transport cargo and people around the world.

A cooperative research and development agreement known as a CRADA was signed Dec. 17 with Blue Origin, a U.S. Transportation Command spokesman said Dec. 29.

U.S. TRANSCOM oversees global military logistics operations. The command last year signed similar agreements with SpaceX and with Exploration Architecture Corp. (XArc). Blue Origin is the third company to ink a CRADA for the rocket cargo program.

Offline Yiosie

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Re: Dept of AF 4th Vanguard program: rocket cargo
« Reply #14 on: 09/06/2022 10:32 pm »
Cross-post:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220906006034/en/Rocket-Lab-Signs-Agreement-with-USTRANSCOM-to-Explore-Using-Neutron-and-Electron-Rockets-to-Deliver-Cargo-Around-the-World

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Rocket Lab Signs Agreement with USTRANSCOM to Explore Using Neutron and Electron Rockets to Deliver Cargo Around the World
The agreement supports the U.S. Air Force’s rocket cargo project which is exploring new transport concepts for sending supplies and equipment across Earth via space.

September 06, 2022 04:41 PM Eastern Daylight Time

LONG BEACH, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced that it has signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) to explore the possibility of using the Company’s Neutron and Electron launch vehicles to transport cargo around the world. The agreement will also see Rocket Lab explore using Photon spacecraft to establish on-orbit cargo depots and deliver re-entry capability.

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Rocket Lab USA will help the Federal government understand commercial rocket capabilities for future logistics missions

The CRADA enables the collaborative investigation between USTRANSCOM and Rocket Lab to explore Neutron, Electron and Photon capabilities, informing the Rocket Cargo program led by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the U.S. Space Force. Rocket Cargo is one of the Air Force’s Vanguard programs designed to advance emerging systems and concepts through prototyping and experimentation to deliver remarkable new capabilities. The program seeks to explore the viability of space launch to deliver improvements in delivery cost and speed compared to existing air cargo operations.

“Point-to-point space transportation offers a new ability to move equipment quickly around the world in hours, enabling a faster response to global emergencies and natural disasters,” says Rocket Lab founder and CEO, Peter Beck. “Electron is already a proven and reliable launch vehicle and we’ve demonstrated its adaptability with programs like reusability and our recent CAPSTONE mission to the Moon for NASA, so we’re no stranger to exploring expanded use cases for Electron. Neutron builds on Electron’s capability with a much larger payload capacity, and it’s designed for frequent reflight, making it a perfect fit to enable fast deployment of vital resources while eliminating the en-route stops and air refueling required by air cargo solutions. Topping it off with Photon cargo depots on orbit provides a well-rounded approach to the future of rapid global deployment. We’re excited to be collaborating with USTRANSCOM on this forward-thinking, innovative research program that could ultimately shift the way the Department of Defense considers logistics response options.”

“Rocket Lab USA will help the Federal government understand commercial rocket capabilities for future logistics missions,” added Mr. Jamie Malak, the CRADA’s government project lead at AFRL. “USTRANSCOM and its global Combatant Command customers have been constrained to logistics at the speed of conventional aircraft—or often far less—for their entire history. Now we can look to transport critical military cargo an order of magnitude faster than ever before. We will explore how to integrate rocket cargo systems in Defense logistics processes and how to make space transportation a reliable and practical option for operations of the future.”

About USTRANSCOM:

USTRANSCOM oversees global military logistics operations and uses CRADAs to evaluate commercial technologies for possible fielding. The agreements team industry, academia, and their specific technologies with DOD future thinkers to anticipate uses, feasibility, value, and costs.

About Neutron:

Neutron is Rocket Lab’s medium-lift, reusable launch vehicle in development. Designed to deliver reliable and cost-effective launch for payloads to low Earth orbit and beyond. With a large seven-meter fairing and a payload lift capacity of 13 tonnes in a downrange landing configuration, Neutron is ideal for both constellation deployment and large single spacecraft missions. Development and manufacturing of the Neutron rocket is based at Rocket Lab’s Production Complex in Wallops, Virginia within the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. Neutron’s first launch pad will also be located at the spaceport near the Company’s existing pad for the Electron rocket.

About Electron:

Electron is Rocket Lab’s small launch vehicle, capable of launching payloads of up to 320kg / 705 lbs to low Earth orbit and interplanetary destinations. Since the first Electron lift-off in 2017, Rocket Lab has launched 29 Electron missions deploying 149 spacecraft to orbit for civil, defense, intelligence and commercial customers. Rocket Lab operates three launch pads for Electron. The first two are located at Launch Complex 1 in New Zealand, the world’s first private orbital launch site. A third Electron launch pad is located at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia.

About Photon:

Photon is Rocket Lab’s in-house designed and built small spacecraft. Photon is based on the heritage Electron launch vehicle Kick Stage, leveraging numerous components that have significant flight heritage, including the Curie engine, an in-house designed and developed in-space propulsion system. A highly configurable platform, Photon Configurable can be adapted for a range missions in LEO, MEO, GEO, and beyond, including lunar and planetary. A lunar-capable version of Photon was used by Rocket Lab to successfully complete the CAPSTONE Moon mission for NASA in 2022, sending a CubeSat to a ballistic lunar transfer in the first mission of the Artemis program.

+ Images & Video Content
www.flickr.com/photos/rocketlab

+ About Rocket Lab

Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) is a global leader in space, delivering proven and reliable space services spanning launch, spacecraft manufacture, satellite subsystems, flight software, and on-orbit operations.

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