Semper Fly: Marines in Space

David Axe gets the cover of this month’s Popular Science for an interesting piece about the Marine Corps’ novel way out of dealing with negotiating overfly rights and other inconveniences:

Semper Fly: Marines in Space The proposal, part of the Corps’s push toward greater speed and flexibility, is called Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or Sustain. Using a suborbital transport—that is, a vehicle that flies into space to achieve high travel speeds but doesn’t actually enter orbit—the Corps will be able, in effect, to instantaneously deliver Marine squads anywhere on Earth. The effort is led by Roosevelt Lafontant, a former Marine lieutenant colonel now employed by the Schafer Corporation, a military-technology consulting firm working with the Marines. Insertion from space, Lafontant explains, makes it possible for the Marines—typically the first military branch called on for emergency missions—to avoid all the usual complications that can delay or end key missions. No waiting for permission from an allied nation, no dangerous rendezvous in the desert, no slow helicopter flights over mountainous terrain. Instead, Marines could someday have an unmatched element of surprise, allowing them to do everything from reinforce Special Forces to rescue hostages thousands of miles away.

Only the Marines would work this hard to avoid paperwork.

via Defense Tech

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Given that the price tag per transport is likely to be large, does he cover how we get the transport back to base?

  2. McGehee says:

    Given that the price tag per transport is likely to be large, does he cover how we get the transport back to base?


  3. Cernig says:

    Obviously, they still have to get the bugs out of the concept.

    Regards, C

  4. McGhee,

    You may have hit on something. But instead of shipping the transport back, lets ship the troops to the hot spot. And don’t pinch pennies, lets ship them overnight so they don’t have to spend to long in the box. We can use Fedex and UPS so the bad guys never know which way we will be coming. And of course we can include a pre-paid return label to get the guys back. Fedex and UPS have already got all the overflight rights sewn up.

  5. R Gardner says:

    This sounds like another General Cartwright proposal. CINCSTRAT. Weird things come out of Omaha.

    This reminds me of all the ballistic missile proposals I’ve seen lately that don’t consider where the first and second stages fall.

  6. Anderson says:

    If they can send *one* Marine into space ….

    (Sorry. Filling in for my dad, who was a great teaser of Marines; his business card for a while listed 20-odd specialties on the back, including “Marines Tutored.”)