A year ago SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer Gwynne Shotwell mused about how the Pentagon could use its future heavy launch system Starship. Not to land space marines on Mars, but for the speedy point-to-point delivery of cargo on Earth. The pitch apparently fell on fertile ground, since the US Transport Command (TRANSCOM) has signed an agreement with SpaceX to explore this very possibility.
What the DoD envisions is "moving the equivalent of a C-17 payload anywhere on the globe in less than an hour," according to Gen. Stephen Lyons, TRANSCOM commander. A C-17 Globemaster III can move up to 77.5 tons, which is enough to fit an M1 Abrams tank.
The key technologies for orbital cargo flights have been around for quite some time. But the cost of such a service compared to regular transport aviation is prohibitively high even for an organization awash with taxpayer dollars like the Pentagon. For decades the only cargo that required such a mode of transportation was a nuclear warhead.