The US military is partnering with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop a rocket that can travel at 7,500 miles per hour and deliver 80 tons of cargo anywhere in the world in 60 minutes.
Gen. Stephen Lyons, head of US Transportation Command, said on Wednesday that SpaceX will assess the costs and challenges of the new project, and tests are expected to start in 2021. Another aerospace firm, Exploration Architecture Corporation, will also be a part of the project.
A 7,652-mile journey from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the US-run Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, could take about one hour with the new system. In comparison, a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, a military aircraft with a maximum speed of 590 mph, would complete the journey in about 15 hours.
“Think about moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour,” Gen. Lyons said. “I can tell you SpaceX is moving very, very rapidly in this area. I’m really excited about the team that’s working with SpaceX.”
The plan was announced shortly after SpaceX landed a $149 million contract with the Pentagon to build missile-tracking satellites.