Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been awarded a US$102 million contract by the US Air Force, in hopes that it can develop heavy rockets for use on Earth to deliver military cargo and humanitarian aid.
The offer, which is part of the Air Force’s Rocket Cargo program, aims to use specially-built launch vehicles to administer aid to anywhere in the world that needs emergency help. As per SpaceNews, this is the biggest-yet deal awarded for rocket cargo.
Greg Spanjers, rocket cargo program manager, told SpaceNews that the program aims to “determine exactly what a rocket can achieve when used for cargo transport, what is the true capacity, speed, and cost of the integrated system.”
According toInteresting Engineering, due to the fact that most disaster locations won’t be equipped with a functioning spaceport, the Air Force has to develop a variety of ways to deliver the cargo directly from space.
This could mean that other space ventures, much like SpaceX, could get the chance to develop additional space cargo delivery technologies in the future.
The firm will also be tasked with building a system that makes use of intermodal containers compatible with other transportation modes, though Spanjers revealed that there isn’t a fixed timeline just yet.
“AFRL will be leveraging several commercial demonstration launches over the next few years to collect the data,” he said.
“We continue to talk to other launch vehicle providers and will consider awarding additional contracts later in the program,” he added.