When six airmen took off April 29 in Doom 94, a B-52H bomber from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale AFB, La., to participate in the Navy’s multinational UNITAS exercise, their mission was to bomb the ex-destroyer USS Connolly that was sitting off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., and serving as the target of live-fire shooting practice for the US and 10 foreign navies present. In fact, this B-52 was supposed to be part of the last wave of attacks on the Connolly, sending it to the ocean bottom. But when the B-52 arrived at the scene, the ship was already sinking after having been pummeled with more than 1,600 weapons ranging from Harpoon missiles to rockets. So Doom 94 turned back for home without striking the ship. It landed at Barksdale seven hours after takeoff, having covered 2,500 nautical miles. Capt. Colby Platner, 96th BS chief of strategic plans, said although it was “frustrating” not to be able to execute the strike, “training exercises don’t always go as planned.” Nonetheless, he said participation in the joint and multinational event was still “great training.” (Barksdale report by A1C Allison M. Boehm)
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.