U.S. Space Command is actively tracking part of a large Chinese rocket freefalling wildly from space and expected to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on May 8. Where the debris will land will remain unknown until shortly before it crashes, the Pentagon said May 4. The out-of-control space junk was part of the core launch stage used by China to propel the Long March 5B rocket into space on April 29.
In the California National Guard, the general who commanded its air branch has been fired, a second key general was suspended, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has placed new limits on the organization’s use of fighter jets for civilian missions. Newsom’s office and the head of the Guard, Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, refused to provide details on the reasons behind the recent leadership changes other than a statement from the Guard saying that the organization “is committed to facilitating a positive working environment for all of its members, regardless of gender and ethnicity.”
The U.S. Air Force has awarded the first airworthiness approval for a manned electric aircraft to BETA Technologies, a partner in the AFWERX Agility Prime program. This enables BETA to begin flying its ALIA aircraft in the Agility Prime program. The airworthiness award from the Air Force is the latest milestone in BETA’s test program after recently entering its next phase of flight testing.
The Army is negotiating with the Intelligence Community and Space Force about ensuring operational control of any future Army-built ISR payloads hosted on DOD, IC, and/or commercial satellites, says Willie Nelson, the de facto head of Army space programs. … Why? If the service wins even a modicum of control over where future IC ISR birds are ‘pointed’—a prerogative the IC traditionally has zealously guarded—it would represent a major break with the past.
The city of Dayton, Ohio, formally filed a drinking water contamination lawsuit against Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the U.S. Department of Defense on May 3, seeking damages of up to $300 million. The suit, filed in the Southern District of Ohio, accuses the base and the DOD of failing to stop water containing a group of so-called “forever chemicals” known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances―or PFAS―from flowing daily into the city’s Mad River Wellfield. The wellfield is one of several that Dayton uses to supply drinking water to more than 400,000 customers in Dayton and Montgomery County.
The U.S. Space Force this month will complete a design review of a previously flown SpaceX Falcon 9 booster that launched a military GPS satellite to orbit last fall. The booster is expected to fly another GPS satellite sometime in June. The upcoming launch of the fifth GPS 3 satellite known as SV05 will be the first mission under the national security space launch program to use a refurbished Falcon 9 booster. The satellite, made by Lockheed Martin, arrived at Cape Canaveral, Florida, last month.
A group of 132 House lawmakers have reiterated their support for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, sending a letter to House Appropriations and Armed Services committee leadership advocating for continued investment in procurement and sustainment costs amid increased scrutiny of the program's performance. The April 28 letter, signed by members of the JSF caucus, calls for increased funding for sustainment and support for the Defense Department's yet-to-be-released fiscal year 2022 procurement request, as well as any unfunded requirements lists from the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
The 174th Attack Wing is working with multiple Pentagon contractors and academic researchers to establish new capabilities for the MQ-9 Reaper drone aircraft, the Air National Guard announced May 4. According to a press release from the wing, the new capabilities include battlefield and airspace communications enhancements as well as target identification tracking and processing.
Loft Orbital announced May 5 it won a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the Space Force to support the development of an edge computer that can analyze data in space. The contract is a Phase 2 SBIR sponsored by the Space and Missile Systems Center. The company will receive $750,000 in government funding and $750,000 in matching private funds for a total $1.5 million to finance the development of an edge computer processor that will function as a “brain” on Loft Orbital spacecraft.
The United Kingdom has set a requirement that its Royal Air Force have net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But according to Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, the service needs to work under the assumption that it has to hit that target a decade earlier—and accept that other budget priorities will be cut to make it happen.
The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress released a new report May 4 calling on the U.S. government to accelerate the procurement of commercial space technologies and manage growing congestion in low-Earth orbit. CSPC is a nonpartisan think tank led by former members of Congress Mike Rogers of Michigan and Glenn Nye of Virginia. In a 2019 report, the group called out DOD for not opening up opportunities for emerging commercial space companies and was especially critical of the national security space launch program. Many of the same points were made in the 2021 report.
The images that came out of Tripoli International Airport in August 2011 have become defining symbols of the downfall of the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, the autocrat who ruled Libya with an iron fist for over four decades. Rebel forces had just taken control of the country's airport and captured a major prize. Short of capturing Gadhafi himself—Libya's ousted leader would be killed by rebel forces weeks later—they had taken hold of one of his gaudiest symbols of power. … After years in storage in southern France, it was spotted by photographer Clement Alloing on May 3, 2021, flying over Perpignan. Here's the story of how it got there.