The midterm report, obtained by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, says that the Pentagon wants to use Elon Musk’s SpaceX vessels as assault starships and more.
According to an internal US military report made public on Monday, landing a rescue force at a US embassy in Africa threatened by a Benghazi-style siege is only one of the potential military uses for Elon Musk’s Starship vessels.
The document refers to a 2020 partnership agreement between SpaceX and the United States Transportation Command (TRANSCOM), but it is still a wish list because the Starships are far from operational.
The US military announced the TRANSCOM partnership with SpaceX in October 2020. The Defense Department was seeking the ability to transport the equivalent of a C-17 cargo – just under 80 tons, or a single M1 Abrams tank – “anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” according to official documents.
The Pentagon has other objectives, according to the latest “midterm report” (pdf below) obtained by the Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
A fleet of military Starships may provide “an alternative method for logistics delivery” in the Pacific, as well as bring “a collection of shelters, vehicles, construction equipment, and other gear” anywhere on the globe on short notice, allowing the US Air Force to set up an airbase.
The “Embassy Support” scenario involves a “rapid theater direct delivery capability” from the US to an embassy in Africa, possibly involving a “quick reaction force.” The Military stated that even demonstrating such capability “could deter non-state actors from aggressive acts toward the US.”
While the report does not draw this comparison, the scenario closely resembles the attack on the US compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, when an ambassador and three security contractors were killed while waiting for a rescue squad that never arrived.
While SpaceX has yet to respond on the story, TRANSCOM spokesman John Ross told the Intercept that the military believes a rocket-deployed rapid response force is “possible within the next 5-10 years.”
The Starship is still in its early stages of development. After a series of experiments that resulted in explosions, the first successful landing of a prototype occurred in May 2021. Aside from technical difficulties, Musk is attempting to obtain permission to launch tests from his SpaceX facility in southern Texas.
According to National Geographic, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued SpaceX preliminary environmental approval last week, but the corporation will need to create “a historical context report… of the Mexican War” and meet 74 other requirements before receiving the full approved license.
Even so, the FAA license would only be valid for ten launches each year. According to a leaked FAA assessment, authorities are concerned that SpaceX lacks “a strong safety culture.”
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