It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


USAF leadership making some curious statements about Space.

page: 4
<< 1  2  3    5 >>

log in


posted on Feb, 10 2019 @ 10:26 PM
a reply to: beetee

It actually makes a hell of a lot of sense. Resupply by air requires a lot of aircraft, and unless they're flying augmented, or in a relay, it can easily take over 24 hours for a flight to get to the resupply point.

Resupply using ships can lift a lot more cargo, but can take weeks to arrive. And if there's not a port near where you're going, you have to then convoy to where it's got to go.

Having prepositioned stockpiles works, but when you use them you have to refill them. Putting what's basically a prepositioned stockpile in orbit, where it can be dropped anywhere in the world, in a few hours greatly simplifies resupply.

posted on Feb, 10 2019 @ 11:04 PM
a reply to: Jukiodone

Id love to read that thread. PM me a link if you have the time. I can have fun trying to guess who these former members are.

Its a shame Bedlam doesnt post anymore. I miss the guy. Wherever hes gone off to.
edit on 10-2-2019 by BASSPLYR because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 12:34 AM

originally posted by: beetee
I did not really know if this should properly go in the Aircraft forum or the Space forum, but since this is the USAF I decided to put it here.
A moderator can move if it should more properly be placed elsewhere.

It seems that the US Air Force is not thrilled about the notion of a "Space Force" to siphon off both expertise and capabilities, and I guess the creation of a new force exclusively for the space domain will probably be resisted in other parts of the US Military as well.
This may well be why there seem to be quite a few odd statements being made by some very senior people within the USAF, which certainly shows that the USAF has been thinking about space capabilities for some time now. Maybe it even hints that it is indeed expecting to become radically more capable in space in the future.

First there is this quote from USAF Chief Of Staff, General David Goldfein, from some musings on the next generation of refueling tankers:

I actually don’t know if the next version of tanker operates in the air or operates at low earth orbit.. I don’t know if it’s manned or unmanned, and I actually don’t care that much as long as it brings the attributes we need to win... It might sound a little bit odd that the commander of Air Mobility Command is talking to Air Force Space Command about development of the next tanker, but it makes perfect sense to me.

Source is the below article from "The War Zone":
USAF Chief says next air refueling tanker may fly in low earth orbit

A tanker in LEO? Really?

In a situation where most single stage to orbit platforms seems to have been abandoned, this is a very curious statement. The USAF has indeed had some success in space, perhaps most spectacularly with the X-37 Space Plane, but unless there have been some developments that we are not privy to (which might be the case), a LEO tanker platform seems decidedly premature. I understand the need for visions, but in the current climate where Virgin Galactic and other private actors are struggling up into suborbital heights, where is this notion of a LEO tanker coming from?

If the USAF is clandestinely fighting to stave off the creation of a Space Force, talking points such as this is probably useful to blur the line between what is space and what is not, which might be beneficial for the USAF to maintain it's role as a significant space actor.

However, this statement is not alone among curious comments within the last year or so.

On august 3. 2018 FlightGlobal's Steve Trimble got some very curious comments from USAF LtGen VeraLinn Jamieson in an interview, where the USAFs ambitions in space was taken to a whole new level with the following:

I am convinced that there are more domains – man-made domains – that will come, and I would offer you that if we look at galaxies – sounds nuts – but there’s going to be a man-made domain in galaxies.

Space has got different galaxies. And in those galaxies in the future we’re going to actually have capability that we have right now in the air. We don’t know what it is because we haven’t freed our mind to think about what is that space and how we are going to utilize it. Space is contested. It’s going to happen.

Source: Steve Trimble tweet

Again, some very curious statements that shows the USAF is definitely thinking long and hard about space and what the future might hold, yet given our current understanding about the USAF space capabilities, this seems odd to say the least.

So, what is this? Just fluff or is the USAF seriously musing about LEO tankers and operating in other galaxies?
Is it about to boldly go where no Air Force has ever gone before?



I suspect this is just warming the public up to combining the US military to the secret space program as Kerry Cassidy from project Camelot writes about.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 12:44 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58
You'd be better off skipping the prepositioning part and deliver the payload straight from home with a BFR type vehicle on a suborbital trajectory.
But it would be a a niche capability just like resupplying by air is today.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 01:12 AM
a reply to: mightmight

Right, because they're going to have BFRs sitting on launch pads waiting to launch with supplies loaded.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 01:22 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58
IMO that would be a more realistic than safely storing 100s of tons on reentry vehicles in LEO for months to years on end.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 01:39 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

I understand it from a logistical point of view I suppose, but the economical and strategic parts of this don't quite add up.

Unless you can somehow hide it, it is going to be something any capable adversary will seek to go after. Now, given how we get things into any orbit today, everybody will know where they are.

The peer (or near-peer) state adversary will have means to simply blow your supplies to pieces for the price of an equal amount of missiles. Which would be a pretty poor exchange from the US perspective.

You could, perhaps, spread out to make it more resilient to such a strike. Maybe autonomous smaller packets thay you could put down independently. But they could still be targeted, if they could be tracked.

And why not launch from the ground when needed, instead of saddling yourself with a big strategic Achilles heel like this?

If you can somehow hide in orbit, you will have to be able to do re-entry to make use of your supplies, which would then open you up to being tracked and targeted.

Finding a cheaper and faster way to resupply from the ground, or via atmospheric flight, seems much more doable and much less risky.

Maybe I am not seeing the whole picture, but in a situation where the US has realised its military is far too reliant on existing space assets, such as GPS and other satellites, this seems like an odd direction to take.

edit on 11-2-2019 by beetee because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 02:44 AM
Maybe there cloaking and Meta Materials will come out of the black world and make it viable?

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 04:22 AM
a reply to: myss427

Well, cloaking would help. If you could do it with some efficiency against most surveillance technologies.

However, what about support for these installations? Things will go wrong. They will need looking after. And a lot of supplies won't be viable for that kind of storage, at least not long term.

It just seems overly complicated and risky, and costly, within the current picture.

If the US and others are already puttering around well beyond LEO in secret, then it makes a bit more sense. I am not talking about any kind of breakaway anything, but rather a hidden side to what we have been doing in space since the 50s... Which we already know to be a part of the picture.

I just don't think we know the full extent of it.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 07:41 AM
a reply to: beetee

They are just as vulnerable as aircraft resupply. And can use the same tactics as they do, with decoys, and other techniques. No method will be invulnerable, but you can mitigate risks to them all.

They won't keep rockets sitting on the ground ready to go, because that would require having enough launching pads and infrastructure to have them sitting loaded and ready to go. Having them already in orbit allows the use of existing infrastructure and doesn't tie things up with them just sitting.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 08:00 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

I dont see what would 'require' the launcher sitting reeady to go on the pad. What do you want to do, emergency supply of troops in contact directly from CONUS? Thats ridiculous.

MAYBE you could make a case for regularly supplying entire BCTs ort expeditionary wings that way. But the launchers wouldn't just be sitting on a pad, the Air Force Mobility Command would simply buy the neccessary launch capacity from SpaceX or BlueOrigin and take over launchers as they are availabe.

Putting stuff up in orbit just creates headaches without end. The vehicles need to be serviced, supplies might degrade in space and if you didnt get a chance to use them you just wasted a lot of money.

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 08:47 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

Well, I won't really argue the point as to feasibility, as I Iack the insight into both current strategic thinking, costs and challenges.

I don't quite understand how a geostationary, or even orbiting, target won't be vastly more vulnerable than a comparably shorter airlift mission.

I supposed the short time frame to concept also surprised me foe such a complex mission.

And won't it be much more expensive?
edit on 11-2-2019 by beetee because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 10:07 AM

originally posted by: beetee
a reply to: Zaphod58

And won't it be much more expensive?

Well... IF Musk gets his dream and BFR (or whatever he calls it this week) has dozens of launches every year, we might see launch cost as low as 10 mill or something. You'll get at least 100 tons with that, probably double and more on suborbital flights, although you'd run out of volume before weight issues.

A C-17 has about 25k per flying hour these days. Say ist long haul run 8000 miles to random airbase in the Middle East or East Pacific, 500mph on average, 16 Hours - say about 400k for 50 tons. Very roughly, you'd need to refuel them somehow and so on.

So yeah, C-17 are still cheaper. Also - and this is HUUUGE - it can actually turn around and fly back home with minimal effort. Multiple times even!

For an actually affordable solution to resupply BCTs, try the Military Sealift Command. If you need drop tank shells from orbit you already #ed up.

edit on 11-2-2019 by mightmight because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 11 2019 @ 10:21 AM
a reply to: Zaphod58

A single C-5 can carry a 460,000 lb load. Two C-17's can carry 320,000 lb. A giant expensive BFR can (hopefully) carry 220,000lbs to LEO. By comparison a Falcon Heavy (not reusable, expending the stages) can loft ~60,000 lbs.

Guess which option is more feasible for emergency logistics purposes? Let's pretend BFR is twice as cheap per pound as the Falcons. We're looking at $250 a pound to orbit. We need a way to safely deorbit, and that will significantly effect throw weight.

Throwing aside things like costs and practicality, what exactly are you pre-positioning in orbit? POL? Welcome to a pretty large problem involving thermal insulation and pressurised containers (read: weight, eating into payload numbers).
Over seven pounds per gallon at $250 a lb means a little shy of nine grand to loft a five gallon jerry can of diesel fuel, almost ten grand. To get one 55 gallon drum is what, 480lbs or something. Just shy of $100k. For one drum.We can't use that lightweight can or oil drum, though, so that's more expensive. Plus the reentry vessel cost/weight is amortized over the total load
Parts? Hope they are designed for rapid thermal contraction and expansion tolerances.
Ammo? High-end propellants (like in a tank, arty) can be subject to condensation of individual chemical components after the teach their freezing points. It results in problems with chemical distribution within the charge after thawing. You'll have to keep it above -50C or so.

There have been several studies for inserting special ops guys via suborbital launches. Hasn't really gone anywhere because of cost and little issues like "How does the bad guy know it's 'just' a special ops team on the rocket landing in it's territory and not a nuclear device?" You run into the same problem here.
edit on 11-2-2019 by RadioRobert because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 12 2019 @ 03:30 AM
a reply to: beetee

is this relevant?
Just asking...

posted on Feb, 12 2019 @ 03:41 AM
a reply to: HomeyKXTA

I can't get your link to work due to Data Protection Laws and all that. I am in Europe.

Edit: Is it this Link
edit on 12-2-2019 by beetee because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 12 2019 @ 04:12 AM
a reply to: HomeyKXTA

The 30th space wing certainly are involved in both the open and the more secret parts of the US space efforts.

Here is their wikipedia page

They have worked with the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program (link) and put classified projects (satellites) in orbit for the NRO.

I expect they would be involved in a lot of the I
Air Force's space efforts, which seems to have been (historically at least) centered around Vandenberg.

The X37b also have landed there after some lf its many successful missions.

I am not sure that they being available in the connect app is a sign of any significant change, but Vandenberg has been a key part of the military space program for years. If I'm not mistaken, this is where the Air Forces own astronauts were based until the project was (allegedly) shelved for good.

The secret MOL project also had a launch site developed at Vandenberg.

A lot of fascinating reading.

posted on Feb, 26 2019 @ 02:26 PM
Since the Navy came up earlier in this thread, here is a cool patent.

A craft using an inertial mass reduction device

What a useful device to have in said craft.
edit on 26-2-2019 by beetee because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 28 2019 @ 12:03 PM
a reply to: beetee

cool pdy talking about TSTO and other hypersonic air/space craft from NATO
edit on 28-2-2019 by penroc3 because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 28 2019 @ 12:58 PM
a reply to: penroc3

Thank you. Very interesting
I seem to remember there beeing a project underway with regards to Hypersonic Boundary Layer Transition, funds for which were allocated in 2018.
I can't find it now, but it was to go on from 2018 to 2020, with some part of the project being done in Australia.
If I remember correctly a test platform was also to be built.

ETA: I think this is the project. It's called BOLT and seems to be funded by the USAF.

I found the project on some Dod budget alloction list.
edit on 28-2-2019 by beetee because: (no reason given)

edit on 28-2-2019 by beetee because: (no reason given)

<< 1  2  3    5 >>

log in