Image source: US Air Force
Air Force One is not an aircraft. It’s a call sign. It is used for any aircraft carrying the US President and is actually an ad hoc concoction adopted officially. Early presidential flights were aboard hired commercial aircraft. It was only during WWII Roosevelt became the first to have his own plane from the USAAF. Unfortunately, the Secret Service refused to sign off on it and converted a totally different aircraft to suit their needs. This kicked off a whole progression of various aircraft that will inevitably lead to Space Force One.
Origins Of Air Force One – The Presidential Aircraft
These days the silhouette of Air Force One is famous. The converted 747s placed in service in the 1990s still the mainstay air transport for any President. These VC-25 airframes are still being developed, but in due course will need replacing. That’s where the development of a Space Force One begins. However, anyone in the US gambling laws of procurement might not hamper this process should think again. Replicating Air Force One capabilities in space is hugely expensive.
Modern Presidential Air Transportation – The 747 Years
The amalgamation of roles between Air Force One and the E-4B Doomsday Planes of Nightwatch and Looking Glass is one area of possible savings. A single vehicle performing both as day-to-day transport and as secure command and control site. However, this will place massive demands on its communications suite. Indeed, like those attempting to bet on sports in the US without a laptop, sans apt communications facilities, the entire concept of Space Force One is moribund.
Space Force One Will Amalgamate E-4B Doomsday Plane Tech
Propulsion is another area in which current developments point towards the future’s practical systems. Current generation chemical rocketry is not user-friendly enough. Thus, a scramjet Space Force One seems likely. Able to take off and land conventionally but reach at least Low-Earth Orbit, this would also provide massively high-speed transit in the atmosphere for the President and his staff. Systems like the X-43 from NASA already prove the concept entirely possible.
The Likely Development Of A Scramjet Space Force One
Of course, an orbital Space Force One would require different support from the current Air Force One. In order for it to replicate the all but unlimited mission duration currently possible, Space Force One will need an orbital platform at which to refuel. The expense of this infrastructure, is today, prohibitive. However, SpaceX and Elon Musk are lowering the costs of launches and soon the US could have not just an orbital Space Force One but an actual embassy in a constant orbit.
An Orbital Space Force One And Its Infrastructure
Space Force One might sound like something out of science fiction today but aboard his converted C-54 on his way to Yalta in 1945 Roosevelt would have said the same about today’s Air Force One. The technological development towards its practical construction is inevitable, the only real issue will be the expense. This will be massive, but as the world becomes ever more dangerous the Secret Service could well insist the President takes to space where fewer enemies can reach him.
We take a look at the Space Force One concept, future development of Air Force One the US President’s air transport and aerial command bunker.