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Marine Corps Wants Spaceplanes

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Unread 07.12.06, 06:20 AM
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Marine Corps Wants Spaceplanes

Reprinted from NewsMax.com

Monday, July 10, 2006 2:23 p.m. EDT
Marine Corps Wants Spaceplanes

The Marine Corps is seeking a new high-tech vehicle to ferry troops to hotspots around the globe – a spaceplane.

Spaceplanes are craft that take off and land like airplanes but achieve low orbit using rockets.

"Unlike the Air Force, Navy and Army, all three of which sponsor expensive satellite programs, the cash-strapped Marines are pushing just one space concept, called Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or SUSTAIN,” the Web site Military.com reports.

"It's a reusable spaceplane meant to get a squad of Marines to any hotspot on Earth in two hours - then get them out. The idea is to reinforce embattled embassies, take out terrorist leaders or defuse hostage situations before it's too late.”

Col. Jack Wassink, chief of the Marine Corps's small Space Integration Branch, said:

"The Corps has always been an expeditionary force, a force of readiness, a 911 force. All SUSTAIN is, is a requirement to move Marines very rapidly from one place to another. Space lends itself to that role."

Propulsion and aerodynamics challenges will have to be met before the spaceplane becomes a reality, Wassink acknowledges, and "there’s a whole host of safety considerations.”

But he believes it’s possible to develop SUSTAIN within 10 to 15 years.
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