One giant leap for Space Force: Pentagon seeks ‘orbital outpost’

The Defense Department is seeking a “self-contained and free flying orbital outpost” to serve as a hub for experimentation and testing for the military’s 21st-century space program. In a request for proposals, the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) laid out its requirements for the outpost and suggested that the project could be a first step toward ultimately having military personnel on board. “The solution must be capable of supporting space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions,” the DIU said. Moving forward, the Pentagon said “desired future capabilities” of the project include attachment with other outposts in space, orbit transfer, and even “human-rating,” suggesting that the unit should be able to safely house humans. The solicitation for proposals comes as the Pentagon moves forward in establishing U.S. Space Command, a key component of President Trump’s desired Space Force. The Senate last week confirmed Gen. John Raymond to lead Space Command.

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