December 20, 2006

Space Marines!

Posted in Random Oddments, Technology at 11:06 pm by Calico Jack

From Popular Science:

As any battlefield commander will tell you, getting troops to the fight can be as difficult as winning it. And for modern-day soldiers, the sites of conflict are so far-flung, and the political considerations of even flying over another country so complicated, that rapid entry has become nearly impossible. If a group of Marine Corps visionaries have their way, however, 30 years from now, Marines could touch down anywhere on the globe in less than two hours, without needing to negotiate passage through foreign airspace. The breathtaking efficiency of such a delivery system could change forever the way the U.S. does battle.

The proposal, part of the Corps’s push toward greater speed and flexibility, is called Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or Sustain. Using a suborbital transport—that is, a vehicle that flies into space to achieve high travel speeds but doesn’t actually enter orbit—the Corps will be able, in effect, to instantaneously deliver Marine squads anywhere on Earth.

This really excites my inner military geek, regardless of how practical the idea Space Marines really turn out to be. For one thing, the cost must be astronomical for this kind of insertion. And once the Marines are on the ground, they’ll need a way to extract themselves (the spaceship rides on a carrier aircraft which takes it out of the atmosphere, allowing the spaceship to gain high speeds before igniting its propultion system.) The Corps expects to have a working prototype in fifteen years, and possibly a production model by 2030.

I don’t care if this never ends up working out; how cool is the idea?


1 Comment »

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