SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, Feb. 1, 2023 — Knight Aerospace, a leading global manufacturer of medical modules for cargo aircraft, has announced that it has been awarded Small Business Innovation Research contracts totaling $3.75 million by the Air Force Research Laboratory.
These contracts are focused on developing low-cost, intermodal cargo containers for point-to-point rocket transport.
Conceptual rendering of delivery of medical supply vehicles anywhere on Earth via point-to-point rocket transportation (Courtesy U.S. Air Force).
Long known for its innovative cargo aircraft solutions, Knight Aerospace's newly funded initiative, the INTermodal Rocket CONtainer (INTRCON), will investigate the technology's potential to enable new rapid logistics capabilities in the Department of the Air Force (DAF). INTRCON will facilitate mission planning, agile global logistics, ground launch operations and coordination with commercial airspace.
"Our expertise with unconventional platforms continues to answer major customer needs," said Knight Aerospace President and CEO Bianca Rhodes. "This contract opens the door for Knight Aerospace to deliver modular mission solutions to rockets, low-earth orbit and even lunar operations."
Among the innovative products that Knight has pioneered are medical modules—effectively “flying emergency rooms” that can provide hospital-grade care in flight to injured or seriously ill patients. Shown here is one of the company’s first units as it is loaded onto a Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft at Kelly Field in early 2021 — ready to undertake life-saving missions. The company’s ability to develop this type of complex technology—airworthy and also able to withstand high g-forces—has enabled it to undertake new projects focused on space-based cargo transportation.
Interim President and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Dave Petersen said: "Knight Aerospace brings a new spotlight to the City of San Antonio with this opportunity. Rocket and space travel are a part of our future, and this award established San Antonio as a leader and prominent player."
Knight Aerospace announced its move to Port San Antonio's 1,900-acre campus in 2019, where other prominent tenants include Boeing as well as the 16th Air Force, a cybersecurity and cyber warfare unit of the U.S. Air Force.
Interior of the medical module can provide a full spectrum of hospital grade care while in flight or as a standalone emergency medical facility on the ground.
"Port San Antonio remains deeply honored to be the home of aerospace pioneer Knight Aerospace, and we look forward to how this exciting development will shape the future of the company and the industry in San Antonio," said Jim Perschbach, Port San Antonio President and CEO.
The DAF began offering "The Open Topic" SBIR/STTR program in 2018, which expanded the range of innovations the DAF funded, and with these contracts Knight Aerospace embarks on a new journey to create and provide innovative capabilities that will strengthen the national defense of the United States of America.
About Knight Aerospace
Knight Aerospace is a leading aerospace manufacturer specializing in the development and production of advanced passenger, patient and cargo carrying solutions for unconventional platforms. With a focus on innovation and cutting-edge technology, the company has become a major player in the industry, delivering top-quality products to clients in 36 countries. Knight Aerospace has a proven track record of success, delivering solutions that are certified to the same standards as the aircraft they fly on. With a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, Knight Aerospace continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in aerospace and is poised for continued growth and success in the years to come. For more information, visit www.knightaerospace.com.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 11,000 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit www.afresearchlab.com.
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AFVentures invests in emerging technologies to scale Department of the Air Force capabilities, strengthening the US industrial base that empowers Airmen and Guardians by incentivizing private, for-profit investment in national security interests. Our success is achieved by connecting novel commercial solutions with defense problem sets, de-risking Airmen and Guardian initiatives to fill capability gaps and transition technologies. Learn more at www.afwerx.com/afventures-overview.