Without doubt, there is strong Senate support for continued C-17 production. The vote on a plan to authorize the purchase of 42 more airlifters (DR, 11/11/05) passed by an overwhelming bipartisan margin—89 senators voted “yea.” Did you notice, though, who was among the lonely eight “no” votes? None other than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading 2008 Presidential contender. At least five potential Democratic candidates voted for the C-17. They were: Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York; Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware; Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts; Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana; and Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. Quite a case of political cross-dressing.
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.