Space Force to Lead Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program

June 9, 2021 by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Air Force announced it has designated the United States Space Force as the lead service for its “Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program,” a science and technology effort intended to determine the viability of large commercial rockets for Department of Defense logistics missions.

As part of its ongoing science and technology strategy, Rocket Cargo will be the Air Force’s fourth Vanguard initiative and the first initiative to be led by the Space Force. The program will utilize the Air Force Research Laboratory to study commercial rocket cargo capabilities, possibly “expanding the portfolio of capabilities the USSF presents to combatant commanders,” the branches announced in a joint release.

“The Rocket Cargo Vanguard is a 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,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond said in a written 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.”

While SpaceX is currently the only commercial entity able to launch orbit-class rockets and reuse them after landing, the announcement of the latest Vanguard program could incentivize other companies to boost their development of reusable cargo rockets. 

SpaceX services have been commissioned by the U.S. military in the past. For instance, the company received a $316 million Air Force contract in Aug. 2020 to launch a National Reconnaissance Office satellite in 2022.

Further, TWN previously reported the U.S. Army deployed a constellation of 600 SpaceX Starlink satellites designed to provide internet access to remote regions as part of its “Project Convergence” program.

“The Air Force has provided rapid global mobility for decades and Rocket Cargo is a new way the Department can explore [complementary] capabilities for the future,” Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth said in a written statement. “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.”

The program will study opportunities for commercial rockets to quickly transport DoD materials to ports around the world. Large rockets with reusable stages could be utilized by the branches to expand cargo capacities while simultaneously reducing launch costs.

The other current Vanguard programs include an autonomy core system in a reusable unmanned aerial platform enabling autonomous operations known as “Skyborg,” a flight experiment examining capabilities across the ground, space and user segments to improve space-based positioning and navigation known as “NTS-3,” and an initiative that demonstrates collaborative autonomous networked weapons via the creation of an integrated weapon system known as “Golden Horde.”

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

In The News

Health

Voting

Military

Senator: Military Justice Changes Must Go Beyond Sex Cases
Criminal Justice
Senator: Military Justice Changes Must Go Beyond Sex Cases

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is on the brink of success in her yearslong campaign to get sexual assault cases removed from the military chain of command. But getting over the finish line may depend on whether she can overcome wariness about broader changes she's... Read More

Pentagon Redirects Border Wall Funds To Defense Projects
Military
Pentagon Redirects Border Wall Funds To Defense Projects
June 17, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Defense has released its plan for the nearly $2.2 billion in funds that were redirected for the border wall under the Trump administration. The money will go to a broad set of improvements related to the armed forces, according to documents... Read More

Airstrikes Still a Possibility After Afghan Pullout
Defense
Airstrikes Still a Possibility After Afghan Pullout
June 10, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department may seek authorization to carry out airstrikes if the capital of Kabul or any other major city in Afghanistan is in danger of falling to the Taliban after the U.S. completes the withdrawal of its troops from the country in early... Read More

Space Force to Lead Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program
Military
Space Force to Lead Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program
June 9, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Air Force announced it has designated the United States Space Force as the lead service for its “Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program,” a science and technology effort intended to determine the viability of large commercial rockets for Department of Defense logistics... Read More

U.S. Military Expands Production of 'Low-Dead Space' Syringes
Health
U.S. Military Expands Production of 'Low-Dead Space' Syringes
May 25, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

The Pentagon signed an agreement to expand the production of more efficient syringes, which it announced on Monday, as part of the country’s national response to coronavirus.  According to the agreement, the U.S. allocated $27.3 million in government funding to Retractable Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer that... Read More

War Authorizations Repeal Bills Get Bipartisan Support
Congress
War Authorizations Repeal Bills Get Bipartisan Support
May 21, 2021
by Reece Nations

WASHINGTON — The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday passed a pair of bills that would limit the president’s ability to expand military operations in the Middle East by repealing decades-old Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs. Legislation that would repeal the 1991... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top