Storming the Beaches From Space

Pentagon planners gathered last month to revisit a Marine Corps concept that calls for transporting small groups of marines on a space-faring vehicle and delivering them to any point on the globe within several hours ready to fight. USA Today reported earlier this month that a two-day conference took place to discuss the seemingly far-out notion—both literally and figuratively—called the small unit space transport and insertion program. According to the newspaper, the Marines conceived the concept after the 9/11 attacks as a means to quickly counter terrorist threats or rescue cut-off friendly forces. The Air Force and DARPA are already pursuing concepts, such as the Falcon hypersonic vehicle, for carrying payloads of munitions quickly to any spot on the globe. But these concepts are far from mature and have dealt only with non-human payloads.