Rocket Cargo Technology for Agile Global Logistics

Rocket Cargo Technology for Agile Global Logistics


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The Department of the Air Force is determining the viability and utility of using large commercial rockets for Department of Defense global logistics. We are interested in solutions to improve our ability to:
  1. air drop cargo from the rocket after re-entry in order to service locations where a rocket or aircraft cannot possibly land.
  2. develop intermodal cargo containers that are mass-optimized for space launch, 
  3. engineer a rocket cargo bay and logistics for rapid loading and unloading.

Additional Context to Problem Statement: 

Commercial rocket advances have opened opportunities to improve delivery cost and speed of air cargo operations to transport equipment needed to quickly restore a loss of mission operation as well as provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief payloads to stricken areas. There now exists a need for advanced development of new capabilities to move up to 100 tons of cargo for delivery anywhere on the planet within tactical timelines. 

Terrain and disaster conditions will not always permit cargo bearing rockets to land in close proximity to target locations. Options must be developed for air-dropping large payloads at high speeds upon rocket reentry and before the rocket must egress to a safe landing location. Delivery options need to balance breaking up large payloads into smaller packages while maintaining mass efficiency. Further considerations include large payloads such as hospital equipment and tents that can not be broken into smaller packages.

Innovations in cargo packaging and inter-modal containers are needed that have a reasonable mass-optimization for space launch that will still accelerate the speed required to load and unload rocket cargo. Furthermore, containers should allow cargo to continue transport via air, sea, rail, and land modes without repackaging.

Finally, innovative concepts are required for loading/unloading cargo from the payload bay of a large rocket generally 150 from the ground. Solutions must maintain time efficiencies to equal the 30-60 minute global transport times, develop cargo holds that can properly position the center-of-gravity, and containers that can survive a 150 foot drop.

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