Blue Origin has agreed to work with the US military to investigate the idea of using their rockets to carry cargo and people throughout the world in the future. A CRADA, which stands for cooperative research and development agreement, was signed on December 17 with Blue Origin, according to a representative for the US Transportation Command on December 29.
The United States Transportation Command (US TRANSCOM) is in charge of global military logistics activities. Similar agreements were inked by the command last year with SpaceX and Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc). The third company to sign a CRADA for rocket cargo program is Blue Origin.
Companies agree to exchange information about their capabilities and products as part of CRADAs, but the government makes no commitment to purchase anything. The newly formed “rocket cargo” program, directed by the Air Force Research Laboratory as well as the United States Space Force, will be informed by U.S. TRANSCOM’s research of industry data. In its proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022, the Air Force requests $47.9 million for research and rocket cargo tests.
Modeling and simulations will be used in the rocket cargo project to assess the military utility, performance, as well as cost of conveying cargo payloads on air-dropping cargo payloads and commercial rockets. “We know that space currently provides a toolkit, not merely a concept,” said Vice Admiral Dee Mewbourne, who is working as the deputy commander in charge of the US TRANSCOM. “Not every operation is going to call for logistics via space, but when we really need to respond quickly or ensure access in hostile settings, we acknowledge that space now provides a toolkit, not just an idea.”
“We want our comprehension of space transportation’s potential to stay up with the current technical and operational realities,” he said. U.S. TRANSCOM inked a CRADA with SpaceX in March 2020 to look into leveraging SpaceX’s commercial space transportation technologies to speed the delivery of DoD material and troops around the world. It inked a CRADA with Exploration Architecture Corporation (XArc) in April 2020 to advise the command on the requirements for using commercial spaceports.
Blue Origin is constructing an orbital launch vehicle, named New Glenn featuring a reusable first stage and runs a suborbital reusable launch vehicle dubbed New Shepard for space tourism. To accomplish point-to-point freight delivery, reusable stages and capsules with parachutes to be able to land space tourists are some of the technologies which would be required. The corporation has still yet to fly New Glenn, although it expects to do so in late 2022 if the BE-4 engines are completed successfully. The first stage of Blue Glenn is going to be powered by 7 BE-4s.