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ROC STAR - ROcket Cargo System Technologies And Research


OUSD (R&E) CRITICAL TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Sustainment & Logistics; Mission Readiness & Disaster Preparedness


The technology within this topic is restricted under the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), 22 CFR Parts 120-130, which controls the export and import of defense-related material and services, including export of sensitive technical data, or the Export Administration Regulation (EAR), 15 CFR Parts 730-774, which controls dual use items. Offerors must disclose any proposed use of foreign nationals (FNs), their country(ies) of origin, the type of visa or work permit possessed, and the statement of work (SOW) tasks intended for accomplishment by the FN(s) in accordance with the Announcement. Offerors are advised foreign nationals proposed to perform on this topic may be restricted due to the technical data under US Export Control Laws.


OBJECTIVE: This topic seeks to perform systems engineering, concept exploration, analysis, modeling and simulation, test and evaluation of point-to-point rocket transport of cargo.


DESCRIPTION: The commercial rocket industry is expected to have an evaluation of $1B over the next five years and the Department of the Air Force is interested in examining how this new emerging market can be utilized for point to point transport of cargo. Rocket transport of cargo opens up a new capability by enabling the delivery of goods to any point on the earth within 90 minutes or less. While this capability provides a transformation in cargo transport, many challenges remain in making cargo transport via rocket a reality. A specific focus is how the Government can take advance of commercial capabilities without taking sole ownership or creating a unique aspect that is Government only, thereby driving up life cycle cost. Another aspect of interest to the Government is the ability to influence designs early on so that if there are unique Department of Defense (DoD) requirements, they can be incorporated into the commercial product enabling dual-use aspect.


The Department of the Air Force is exploring rocket transportation capability for DoD logistics and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is currently assessing emerging rocket capability across the commercial vendor base, and its potential use for quickly transporting DoD materiel to ports across the globe. The U.S. commercial launch market is building the largest rockets ever, at the lowest prices per pound ever, with second-stages that will reenter the atmosphere and be reused. These advances in the U.S. commercial launch market are presenting the need for assessment and maturation of system-of-systems concepts of rocket transportation for DoD (Department of Defense) logistics by the United States air Force and Space Force (USAF/USSF). A large trade space exists for the potential of rocket cargo for global logistics, to include improvements in delivery cost and speed compared to existing air cargo operations.


The goal of this effort is to investigate concepts, and yet to be develop concepts for rock cargo to determine technical feasibility and risk, programmatic costs, and schedule. The information, test and evaluation (T&E) under this effort will be used to influence and guide rocket cargo efforts. While the goal is to enable up to 100 tons of cargo to be delivered anywhere on the planet within tactical timelines, there may be optimization techniques and process with smaller amounts of cargo and transportation modes other than rockets that can provide rapid delivery of materials.

An objective of this effort is to grow AFRL’s Rocket Cargo industrial base. This topic is intended to reach companies capable of completing a feasibility study and prototype validated concepts under accelerated Phase I and II type schedules. This topic is aimed at later stage research and development efforts rather than “front-end” or basic research/research and development.


The focus is on emerging commercial capabilities to minimize cost and enable agile logistics through the entire span of responsive mission planning, rapid cargo logistics, ground launch operations and coordination with commercial airspace.

The main deliverables will be modeling and simulation (M&S), T&E of concepts that advance the viability and utility of using commercial rockets and associated systems for Department of Defense global logistics to expanding capabilities of the USSF for combatant commanders.


PHASE I: As this is a Direct-to-Phase-II (D2P2) topic, no Phase I awards will be made as a result of this topic. To qualify for this D2P2 topic, the Government expects the applicant(s) to demonstrate feasibility by means of a prior “Phase I-type” effort that does not constitute work undertaken as part of a prior or ongoing SBIR/STTR funding agreement. This includes determining, insofar as possible, the scientific and technical merit and feasibility of ideas appearing to have commercial potential. It must have validated the product-market fit between the proposed solution and a potential AF stakeholder. The offeror should have defined a clear, immediately actionable plan with the proposed solution and the AF customer. Relevant areas of demonstrated experience and success include: M&S, cost benefit analysis, risk analysis, concept development, concept demonstration and concept evaluation, laboratory experimentation and field testing.

Phase I type efforts should include the assessment of emerging operational imperatives and how they show a measurable value and operational impact. The result of Phase I type efforts is to assess and demonstrate whether commercial systems can support the furtherance of the operational imperatives.


Eligibility for a D2P2 award is predicated on the offeror having performed a “Phase I-type” effort predominantly separate from the SBIR/STTR Programs. These efforts will include M&S, simulation of prototype concepts, cost benefit analysis, system-of-systems studies, experimentation and evaluation of operational imperatives to enable future concepts. Prototypes, M&S and experimentation should explore a wide range of integrating commercial capabilities to support the operational imperatives. These capabilities should consider areas that are unique to military operations, logistics, mission planning, mission execution, base sustainment and logistics.


PHASE II: A goal is for Phase II efforts to conduct sub-scale experiments and provide test articles for further test and demonstration. Experiments should address military-unique requirements that may not be otherwise met by commercial capabilities.


PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Phase III shall include upgrades to the analysis, M&S, T&E results and provide mature prototypes of system concepts. Phase III shall provide a business plan and address the ability to transition technology and system concepts to commercial applications. The adapted non-Defense commercial solutions shall provide expanded mission capability for a broad range of potential Governmental and civilian users and alternate mission applications. Integration and other technical support to operational users may be required.



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  2. L. Lei, L. DeCandia, R. Oppenheim, Y. Zhao, “Managing Supply Chain Operations”, World Scientific Publishing Co., 2017.
  3. E. Harden, “Just-in-Time Logistics: Does it Fulfill the Surface Navy's Repair Parts Requirements to Support the National Military Strategy?”, Creative Media Partners, LLC, 2012.
  4. O. Yakimenko, “Precision Aerial Delivery Systems: Modeling, Dynamics, and Control”, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2015.
  5. *WHO, “Qualification of shipping containers, Technical supplement to WHO Technical Report Series, No. 961, 2011”, QAS/14.598 Supplement 13, 2014
  6. N. N. Ahypeeb, “Reusable Rockets and Missiles, Russian Cargo Delivery to Space, USSR”, Mockba, 1975;


KEYWORDS: Agile logistics; rapid cargo logistics; ground launch operations

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