When Iraqis stepped up to their ballot boxes earlier this month and voted on a constitutional referendum, US airmen and marines helped to make the process run smoother. The effort involved transporting some 1,320 Iraqi poll workers from the Baghdad International Airport to polling stations across the country, and then back again. Elements of USAF’s 447th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron at Sather Air Base (the name for the USAF facility at the airport), along with the Marine Corps 2nd Expeditionary Force, helped coordinate the 10 flights needed over a period of two days. Two of the flights were aboard Iraqi Air Force C-130s—visibly exciting both the Iraqi aircrew and the pollsters, according to USAF Capt. Robert Frakas, 447th aerial port flight commander.
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.