SUSTAIN: Getting Forces Anywhere in the World w/in Hours, Not Days

Paul Damphousse, Chief of Advanced Concepts for the National Security Space Office, gave a presentation on Friday at ISDC about SUSTAIN – an advanced vehicle  that would allow the Pentagon to deplay a force of 12-13 Marines anywhere in the world within a few hours.

The vehicle – which could go suborbital and might use hypersonic propulsion – would help solve a strategic problem that military authorities faced in the wake of the 9-11 attacks. The Pentagon had Marine expeditionary forces standing by in the Persian Gulf, but it took weeks and months to deploy them because of the need to obtain overflight permissions from Pakistan, Damphousse said. By sending the forces in a reusable, suborbital spaceplane, the U.S. would avoid such problems.

Damphousse recently held a 3-day workshop at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas which was attended by aerospace companies, including some of the leaders in the emerging space tourism field. Military officials are looking to see how they can leverage commercial developments to meet national security needs.

The result was a request for information that was sent out. A technology roadmap for SUSTAIN and other suborbital missions is in the works, Damphousse added.