Thursday, August 16, 2018

“I’m willing to stick anything up there,” declares Air Force General. Really? Is he talking about outer space, or Trump’s anatomy?

General Carlton Everhart, USAF. Does this look 
like an old publicity photo from Dr. Strangelove, or what?

Remember Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars Initiative? Back in the day, it drove the scientists at Lawerence Livermore Laboratories crazy.

An old friend who worked there at the time, complained to me that “every college professor in America who was out looking for a grant for himself would scribble something on the back of an envelope and send it to us as a proposal.” 

It then befell the folks at the labs to put aside their own national defense projects to do Professor Back-Of-The-Envelope’s physics for him and explain why it would be a multi-billion dollar flop. 

Sometimes, the profs would get political and send along an endorsement from an eager friend in the military. This would force the lab people to initiate contact with the military and inform the brass, as gently as they could, that, “You realize, General, that if you blow up an enemy rocket armed with this kind of plutonium bomb over the United States, you’ll be scattering enough carcinogenic radioactive dust to make an area stretching from Chicago to St. Louis uninhabitable….”

There would be a soft harrumphing and the brass hats would move along to some project a little more suitable to their pay grade.

Now an Air Force General named Carlton Everhart, has come up with a back-of-the-envelope idea of his very own. He’s head of the Air Mobility Command, and according to a publication called Defense News, he wants to ship military cargo to far-flung battlefields via outer space. And I guess, what with President Trump pumping for a Space Force, this might bring Everhart to the Trumpster’s favorable attention. It might even speed Everhart’s butt to a seat at the Joint Chiefs conference table.
SpaceX executives “tell me that they can go around the globe in 30 minutes with a BFR,” Everhart said, referencing the next-generation, reusable rocket under development by the company. 
“Think about this. Thirty minutes, 150 metric tons, [and] less than the cost of a C-5,” he continued. In comparison, it would take the service’s cargo aircraft take anywhere from eight to 10 hours to get to the other side of the world.
Uh, General? Small problem. Where do you get your figures for “less than the cost of a C-5?” You first have to develop the technology, right?

For which Everhart has an answer: 
“The concept of how this works? I want industry to do it,” he said. “They will come up with innovative ways and they won’t be encumbered with a long acquisition process. They’ll do it in the speed of war that I need. The question is, how do I incentivize them? I incentivize them by [contracts for] carrying the DoD cargo [during peacetime].” 
So, what kinds of things could the Air Force preposition in space, and where would it go? 
“I’m willing to stick anything up there,” he said, although hardware and materiel that could survive in space are the most obvious options.

And furthermore….
And the logistics of how the Air Force would guard its cargo in space, or how its terrestrial bases would accept it? Well, Everhart said that hasn’t been figured out yet. 
“The technology is there, now we need to experiment with it,” he said. “What kinds of fuel does it need? What parts do you have to have? Does it go offshore? Does it go onshore? What kind of a footprint does it take? All the logistical things that go with it from the logistical side, that’s what I’m working [on] with industry.”
In other words, write a blank check to private enterprise and costs be damned. No wonder the private industry folks love it. Who needs an IPO when you can finance a massive boondoggle with taxpayer money instead? The Federal deficit? Hell, we can always cut Social Security.

Defense news also reported:
Everhart has a reputation in the Air Force community for talking about big — and some critics would say ill-advised — technological leaps such as autonomous or stealthy aerial refueling tankers.
Cross-posted at The New York Crank 

No comments: