Air-to-Air refueling keeps Air Force One, Nightwatch aircraft and indeed USAF bombers, aloft for as long as necessary. An orbital Space Force One would require far more substantial support than a KC-135 or KC-767 tanker. An orbiting refueling platform a minimum requirement for mission duration extension. This, however, is likely to itself morph into more than a mere gas station. An orbital Space Force One could well lead to the development of an orbital embassy.
An orbital Space Force One would give the US president the ability to bestride the globe at incredible speeds. However, the craft would need to be far more than just ultra-rapid airliner. The multi-role nature of its concept requiring an unlimited mission duration during wartime. In the atmosphere, as at present, this involves tanker aircraft, in orbit things would be a little more complex. The US will require a permanent presence in orbit. Or at least in low-earth orbit.
- “I think both the space shuttle program and the International Space Station program have not really lived up to their expectations.”
This is less problematic, but far more expensive, than it at first appears. The International Space Station or ISS has proved the concept feasible. The technology is already there, albeit at a very basic level of development. Anyone in the US gambling laws of physics won’t be further tamed in years to come needs to think again. Elon Musk is already making huge strides in this field. His SpaceX team are already proving much of the technology that will facilitate an orbital Space Force One.
From Refueling Platform To Embassy In Space
the European Space Agency outlined the Gateway concept, the obvious model for such an orbiting platform. This modular construction would require several launches to construct, but once there would be invaluable. It would not only allow refueling and replenishing of an orbital Space Force One. It would itself be a safe haven in time of war for the President. A military structure of this nature in space would raise eyebrows, of course, so they’ll call it something else. Like an embassy.
- “The space station here is a magical place and an incredible science facility.”
The US orbital embassy is an obvious accompanying piece of hardware to go with an orbital Space Force One. This ever-circling bunker would be a perfect refuge, especially if equipped to negate any AntiSat technology ranged against it. Indeed, unlike an orbital Space Force One, this is something already easily constructed with current technology. It would just cost quite a bit more than anyone, including the US, can spend right now. This limitation may well fade in due course.
Orbital Space Force One Tech Already Under Development
The problems of developing an orbital Space Force One are already being studied, albeit tangentially. The constant tweaking of technology inside Boeing’s X-37B, the US’s secret space plane is a path towards this goal. An orbital Space Force One may thus follow a more humble craft borne aloft under a plane’s wing. The ability to flee to orbit is one that the secret service would consider invaluable in a time of crisis. A primitive system, yes, but it would work.
The infrastructural development necessary for an orbital Space Force One is currently out of reach. The large-scale expenditure is prohibitive. However, the constantly lessening of the cost of space launches will make it even more feasible as time goes on. Whether he knows it or not, Elon Musk is leading the development of an orbital Space Force One. With the costs reduced enough an orbital embassy becomes a no brainer, and perhaps, one day, an orbital White House too.
Read more about Space Force One
We take a look at how an orbital Space Force One would require substantial space hardware to replicate the mission capabilities of Air Force One today.