back to article Spaceborne-forces planners meet with orbital joyride firms

Pentagon space warfare planners want to work with the nascent private space-joyride industry, according to reports. Ambitious US Marine plans to fire a few good men round the world on the same timescale as nuclear warheads have been scaled back, and might instead involve shorter one-way trips using variant Virgin Galactic …


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  1. Luther Blissett

    Space cadets

    Radio Luther would like to dedicate the next item to the USMC - a little number from the ol' insect overlords of pop themselves. Just for you guys, seeing as your budgets stretch only as far as seats for Hollywood movie reruns, and not the Real Thing that the USN has. The Beatles . Ticket to Ride.

    Good speed. And of course, God luck.

    This is Radio Luther broadcasting as usual on the X-Rye wavelength. Free for all. That's free, as in free your ass and your mind will follow.

  2. Lionel Baden

    omg video fail

    but anyway they just wanna get marines in space so they can claim the name

    space marines !

  3. Richard
    Black Helicopters


    This would probably work quite well for mobilising reinforcements to friendly, possibly besieged airfields quickly, rather than doing some kind of 'hot-drop' (this is all getting very sci-fi).

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I for one welcome our new strapon-jetwing clad net-flinger bondage rifle armed Italian spacesuit model para podule spacborne trooper overlords. *

    * Yeah, I scanned it rather than reading it carefully, but I think I got most of the good bits...

  5. Dave Bell

    Herr Doktor Sanger to the white courtesy phone.

    Nothing new, here. Even the Americans have been having these ideas since the 1960s.

    And Google for Sanger.

  6. Martin Lyne


    See: HART (High Altitude Rapid Transport) from SOE's PlanetSide.

    Now we just need the respawning technology..

  7. Paul Murphy

    Starship Troopers - the book not the film.

    Been done before by Heinlein.

    Well, not for real of course, because the starship troopers had starships, and powered flying armour, and micro-grenades and other toys.


  8. Simon Ball
    Thumb Up


    Suborbital deployment, special suits, strap on jetwings and exotic weapons - is anyone getting shades of that old 80's cartoon series The Centurions?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Gets my vote for the silliest name I've heard today.

    He probably lives on a floodplain.

  10. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down


    I sincerely hope that video is a fan's quick knock up of their vision, not an official sales pitch. It's hilarious. I particularly like the way the enemybadevilforces don't even notice the things landing right next to them.

    I'm not entirely clear in what situation this idea wins over the current US tactic - to fire an (unmanned, high explosive) rocket straight at the target.

    And if it's a situation that human intervention is required locally, maybe they should be focussing on the (much cheaper) alternative of making friends with other people around the globe, so they don't need US Marines (tm) to handle each and every situation.

  11. Andrew Moore

    Not again...

    Why do we have to have that amateurish (crap) video attached to every one of these stories?

  12. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Fools, on Guard, while Prudence Burns Bridges for the Enemy.


    And what of UKGBIrish Special Forces Operations...... Virtual Skunk Works in the CyberSpace Field of Perceptions Management?

    There is certainly no reply from their Thames House link on this Wheeze although it is definitely on the Record as having been sent and therefore delivered for Registration and Reply? .....

    "Per Ardua ad Astra MetaDataBase ...... A Game 42 Dare in Win Win Mode ....... Virtual FailSafe Algorithm.

    And Offered Freely here to Crown Forces before ITs Venturing and Export into Vital and Viral Guerrilla Markets too ..... for Global Command and Control Systems and Levers ....... Virtual AIMachinery.

    I wouldn't want Ignorance in the Field, and on Manoeuvres, to be a Proffered Defence for Missing the Boat/Plane/Action/Play/Rewards.

    Please be advised that this is not to be considered Private and Personal even should it be so, for Transparency has its own Secure IntelAIgents Stealth/Virtual Cloud Cover."

    Don't tell me it is Staffed at HQ with Colonel Blimp and Mustard types, who haven't a baldy notion of what is going on around them in the Bigger Picture Theatre of Operations nowadays, and therefore will never ever get a handle on how to Control IT with some Super Sub Atomic, Crazy Astute Technologies and Methodologies.

  13. CeeJay

    "He probably lives on a floodplain."

    It's pronounced "Dam-foose", not "Damp house".

    That was, incidentally, the name of a character in "Space: Above and Beyond", which featured... marines!

  14. Robert Moore

    Ian Ferguson

    The americans are much better at making tech than at making friends.

  15. Mike Moyle

    @ AC 14:34

    I think that you'll find it's pronounced Dam-FOOSS -- it's one of those Frenchy things...

  16. Warhelmet

    "Homemade" Rocket?

    and space based lasers.

    Dirigibles. That's the answer.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Same old problem...

    This suffers the same old problem that has always plagued airborne/airmobile type troops. Namely that due to their nature, they have to be lightly armed/equipped and are therefore useless other than for quick shock actions to capture important targets along the route of advance of more conventional armored/mech troops.

    If your conventional troops can't join up with them sufficiently quickly it's all over - a la Operation Market Garden.

  18. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Wot, no Burt Rutan?

    And even more amazingly how the hell Virgin get the Pentagon bods to let an apparently non-American company in at this event, give its core focus is stuff for the more discrete bits of Uncle Sam's war machine.

    Normally this requires setting up a US subsidiary with an all American Board. I'm not sure naturalised cuts it.

    Naturally Sherman's can talk to the MoD and run their sat. comms. without any of that nonsense. Although it might be interesting if they had the same rules applied to them.

    Not sure why Armadillo are showing as all their stuff has been VTOL.

    Rocketplane/Kistler should also be on the list. The Rocketplane part is quite a good fit for this lark but their v. poor showing on the NASA COTS programme may have put them on the bench.

    Which leaves Xcor. Who have a (small) winged vehicle, a lead rocket engine designer whose a sky diver and a Congressional Liaison who's en ex-Marine. They have also delivered hardware to government contracts under budget and under schedule, as well as being generally good for a laugh.

    This will be interesting.

  19. Greg Trocchia

    @John Smith

    I think your title answers your question about Virgin, when last I heard Burt Rutan and his operation were the ones who were going to actually design and produce the hardware that Virgin will operate (you didn't think Branson was going to be producing the vehicles, did you?).

    I think AC@ 17:54 has a good point, vid not withstanding the forces you will land, as both he and Lewis Page mention, will be light infantry and a fairly limited number of light infantry at that. That said, I do see where such a vehicle might have its place in the Special Ops world where you are trying to get in fast, hit hard, and don't need to hold territory. The question mark I would have about such use would be, "what will you do about exfiltration?"

  20. John Smith Gold badge

    @Greg Trocchia.

    My point exactly. Depending on how it's done militarising civilian kit has a nasty habit of being a bit harder than people expect. I'm well aware Virgin is no vehicle designer (although their marketing surveys and market size estimatinon may have driven the size choice).

    Case in point. the current door design is meant to be difficult (if not impossible) to open in high altitude flight (why would you want to?). Redesign door & frame? Special door with bail out hole in? C130 rear drop ramp? Suddenly its not quite the off the peg SS2 design anymore. Scaled are no stranger to secure govt. contracts and some on site design expertise might avoid proposing something which sounds good and simple but would actually need a total re-design to make it work. Of course that is what cost+ is for (or in the military cost++)

    And then it depends if their going to be sensible or play by the standard military procurement rule book. 1 page of actual specs, 250 of pointing out that you cannot use convict labour on release from the local prison (I paraphrase a description from one of the planned attendees) etc etc.

    The other joker in the pack is Blue Origin. Their habit of only releasing stuff after the fact (We flew our test vehicle. It went up and down. Here is some video. That is all) might appeal to folks who dont want what they are buying to be in the WSJ, or anywhere else.

    As to how far forward Bezos and Co are, who knows. It's my favourite way to go but it lacks 2 key ingredients loved of the AF side of Special Forces.

    Penguin because Armadillio vehicles are powered by the Penguin

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