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Bezos' Blue Origin teams up with U.S. military 'rocket cargo' program

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Bezos' Blue Origin teams up with U.S. military 'rocket cargo' program
Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket lifts off from Texas earlier this month. File Photo courtesy of Blue Origin

Dec. 30 (UPI) -- Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin has teamed up with the U.S. military to explore the possibility of using rockets to transport cargo and people, U.S. Transportation Command announced Monday.

The Amazon founder's Blue Origin rocket company and USTRANSCOM, which oversees global military logistics, signed the cooperative research and development agreement, CRADA, on Dec. 17, according to the announcement.

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The research will be used for the newly created "rocket cargo" project, SpaceNews reported.

The project will use modeling and simulations to analyze the cost and effectiveness of transporting cargo on commercial rockets and air dropping cargo payloads.

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"Not every option will call for logistics through space, but when we need to respond faster, or assure access in challenging environments, we recognize that space now offers a toolkit, not just a concept," Vice Admiral Dee Mewbourne, deputy commander, USTRANSCOM, said in a statement. "At USTRANSCOM, we want our understanding of space transportation's potential to keep pace with the technical and operational realities that are being built now."

USTRANSCOM previously signed a development agreement with SpaceX and Exploration Architecture for the rocket cargo program.

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In its fiscal year 2022 budget proposal, the Air Force is seeking $47.9 million to study rocket cargo demonstrations.

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Earlier this month, Blue Origin launched six people, its largest crew yet, into space on its New Shepard rocket for a short round-trip journey from Texas.

The crew included ABC's Good Morning America host Michael Strahan, Laura Shepard Churchley, daughter of the rocket's namesake, famed astronaut Alan Shepard, and investors Dylan Taylor, Evan Dick, Lane Bess and Bess' adult son, Cameron Bess with paid seats.

Previous crews were composed of four people and launches included Bezos, Star Trek series actor William Shatner and former aviator Wally Funk among other passengers.

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Blue Origin has delayed the first launch of its big New Glenn rocket until late 2022, pending successful completion of the development of BE-4 engines to power it.

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