SpaceX’s Starship Requested by Pentagon as Government Asset for Special Missions

SpaceX Starship has received increased interest from the Pentagon. The U.S. Department of Defense has requested the largest spacecraft in human history to carry out sensitive and potentially dangerous missions. The DOD seeks a government-owned, government-operated asset, rather than contracting with a company to launch the payload.

SpaceX already has a contract to develop the Department of the Air Force’s Rocket Cargo mission. Its goal will be to deliver cargo from one point to another through space. However, the new DOD’s request goes beyond this plan, said Gary Henry, a senior adviser with SpaceX to the audience at the Space Mobility Conference on January 30. At the moment, the company is studying options for responding to the Pentagon.

“We have had conversations … and it really came down to specific missions, where it’s a very specific and sometimes elevated risk or maybe a dangerous use case for the DOD where they’re asking themselves: Do we need to own it as a particular asset …SpaceX, can you accommodate that?” Henry said according to Aviationweek.

“We’ve been exploring all kinds of options to kind of deal with those questions,” he says.

In fact, the state wants to use Starship in the same way it uses some carriers to perform critical tasks. The Air Force sometimes moves cargo under contract to private carriers, but in some special situations uses service “gray tail” aircraft. This means that DOD wants the opportunity to take Starship on a specific mission and return it to SpaceX after its completion.

Col. Eric Felt, director of space architecture for the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, explained that to perform routine tasks, they will purchase commercial services. However, in some situations, a vehicle is required that will be owned and operated by the government.

“If we can buy the commercial service, that’s what we’re going to do, but there might be some use cases where there needs to be a government-owned, government-operated [vehicle] and that transfer can happen on the fly,” Felt says.

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