In the future, help may be just a suborbital hop away.
The military has been looking into using space travel to rapidly insert troops or drones into battle for the better part of a decade, but the private sector may lead the way. Advances in commercial space tourism have created a renewed interest in the science of taking a small number of troops, launching them up into space and then back down onto another part of the world to deal with a crisis.
“It’s the coup that’s about to happen. It’s the hostages you now suddenly know where they are,” said Taber MacCallum, CEO of Paragon Space Development Corp., an Arizona-based company that makes gear and equipment for humans to wear in space.
Paragon was one of many companies that last year took part in an industry workshop on the topic and responded to the Defense Department’s request for information on the matter. An official Pentagon report based on the input from those sessions was recently completed but remains under wraps.
“The guys from space come crashing through the 10th floor window,” MacCallum said. “It’s got a great sci-fi ring to it, but there is some serious work beginning to be done. It could be the thing you do really fast that could stop the war from happening.”
He points to efforts like Virgin Galactic’s private spaceship built to send tourists on suborbital trips. With a similar system, a small military unit could reach dangerous situations overseas in a matter of minutes. The problem is that no one yet has a good idea for getting them back out, MacCallum said.