The Space Force is investing in reusable rockets and other cutting-edge technology from firms like SpaceX.
NASA Space Flight said that a Falcon 9 rocket has previously flown a new-generation GPS Block III Space Vehicle 5 for the US Space Force. The Space Force committed a satellite worth roughly half a billion dollars to the new technology, marking a watershed event for the US military and the notion of reusable rockets.
The Space Force saved money by using a reconditioned booster. This specific first stage had previously carried a GPS III satellite in November 2020. Ars Technica said the US government effectively saved $52 million by consenting to launch two of its new GPS III satellites on old rockets. Officials from the Space Force said this was a good development, and it's wonderful to have the option of increasing launch rates.
Space Force Taps SpaceX for Innovative Launch Concepts
According to the same Ars Technica report, Space Force personnel worked alongside SpaceX workers. The agency had to fully understand the hardware and reuse process while certifying the earlier flown Falcon 9 rocket and prepping it for a relaunch. For the military, this was both an opportunity for learning and to become more acquainted with SpaceX and its attempts to push the frontiers of reuse.
The most essential aspect, according to the US Space Force's commander, is leveraging American ingenuity.
In a statement, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John "Jay" Raymond said the largest threat to their success is moving too slowly and refusing to adjust. This launch, according to Raymond, demonstrates the Space Force's ability to innovate and grow our national advantage in a competitive space environment.
US Military Embraces Technological Advancements
This isn't the first time SpaceX has pushed the US military to embrace technological advancements. The US Space Force recently decided to test and implement an autonomous flight termination system for launches from Cape Canaveral, Florida, as part of its "Range of the Future" initiative.
The military has also indicated an interest in SpaceX's "Starship" program, which aims to create a completely reusable super-heavy lift rocket. The Air Force is attempting to use growing commercial rocket capabilities to launch goods from one point and land it somewhere else on Earth as part of a new "Rocket Cargo" program.
Earlier this year, Air Force scientist and the Rocket Cargo program manager Greg Spanjers told Ars Technica this notion has been around since the start of spaceflight. He added that it's always been a fascinating concept. According to Spanjers, they looked at it every ten years or so. But he acknowledged that it never made sense to us. We're doing it now because it appears that technology has finally caught up with a good concept.
The US military has a reputation for taking a cautious approach to high-risk undertakings such as spaceflight. However, one of the benefits of establishing the US Space Force has been a push to reconsider space operations and a readiness to adapt to once-radical concepts.
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