Air Mobility Command airmen are used to navigating through airspace around the globe, but their commander wants to aim a little bit higher.
Gen. Carlton Everhart said he’s exploring how the command could move some of its mobility mission into outer space.
“I truly believe we can use mobility to take personnel and supplies through this medium,” he told Air Force Times on Thursday.
Everhart said he’ll be brainstorming with representatives from industry and NASA, to see what’s possible in terms of the quickest, most efficient way to transport materiel to various places around the world.
Mobility forces and a company like SpaceX, United Launch Alliance or Orbital ATK could potentially work together is using a rocket-propelled vehicle to transport cargo from one side of the globe to another.
“If you use space as a medium, you can literally go into orbit and come out on the other side of the world in, say, 12 minutes, where it would normally take hours,” Everhart said.
If the cost of could be brought down to approximate the cost of flying a C-5 around the globe, but 10 to 20 times faster, “that’s a win,” he said, noting that SpaceX has been using autonomy to drive down costs.
As for transporting people, Air Force officials would have to look into what kind of training would be needed for airmen going into space for the first time, he said.
“You’re not [in space] that long,” he said. “And you’re not very high up — maybe 60 miles or so.”
Everhart is eager to take advantage of the intellectual power within industry and at places like the Air Force Research Laboratory to see how quickly they could come up with a framework for moving forward.
If it doesn’t seem possible to come up with a viable, cost-effective concept in the next three to five years, Everhart said, he’ll try another route.
“But right now I’m taking direction from [Chief of Staff] Gen. Dave Goldfein: Embrace space, understand space,” he said.