The level of bromance is currently just too high between the US Air Force and the Elon Musk-led space equipment company SpaceX. The latest proof of this increasingly warm relationship is visible as Gen. John W. Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, showered praises immensely on Elon Musk's company in a recent interview.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Raymond stated that he is "completely committed" to launch future missions with recycled rockets, something that SpaceX has been doing for quite some time now. He believes that it could lead to a significant amount in savings if reusable rockets, like the Falcon 9 booster, get launched and relaunched extensively.
"The market's going to go that way. We'd be dumb not to," he said. "What we have to do is make sure we do it smartly." It would be "absolutely foolish" to not to start using the pre-flown rockets, Raymond noted.
Air Force Space Command administers launch operations for the United States military and national security sectors. Before it starts flying its satellites and other payloads on a previously flown booster, the space command need to verify whether or not the SpaceX's "flight proven" boosters are reliable enough.
With the process of testing already in progress, Raymond said:"I don't know how far down the road we've gotten, but I am completely committed to launching on a reused rocket, a previously flown rocket, and making sure that we have the processes in place to be able to make sure that we can do that safely."
The renewed relationship between SpaceX and the US Air Force, which according to Raymond is "strong," was not always the same. In 2014, Elon Musk's SpaceX had sued the US military in order to gain access to the national security launch market, which was then completely dominated by its rival company United Launch Alliance, according to ArsTechnica.
The tie-up, however, improved between the two organisations after SpaceX was granted the certification for its Falcon 9 rocket. Since then, Falcon 9 has launched several military payloads and now it has more in store for the future missions. In September 2017, SpaceX launched the secretive X-37B space plane for the US Air Force.
Apart from Gen. John W. Raymond, other US Air Force officials have also openly favoured SpaceX, which in effect, wide opened the door to the national security launch market further for the company. "There are some very exciting things happening in commercial space that bring the opportunity for assured access to space at a very competitive price," Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson had said in June, reported Bloomberg.
According to ArsTechnica, apart from launch contracts, US Air Force is currently taking bids from the companies on future propulsion systems. As SpaceX, along with other firms (including United Launch Alliance), will most likely pursue those funds, the latest gesture from Raymond could be a potential hint that the US Air Force may very well favour a system that's mostly or completely reusable, and SpaceX's Falcon 9 rockets certainly fit in.