An F-16 from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano AB, Italy, went missing during a training mission over the Adriatic Sea on Monday and was presumed to have crashed in the water, announced wing officials. A search effort was underway, with US and Italian military and civilian teams cooperating, they said. “The search for and rescue of our pilot is our top priority,” said Col. David Walker, 31st Operations Group commander, in the base’s Jan. 28 release. “We want to assure the family and friends of the lost airman that we are doing everything we can for this effort,” he added. The base lost contact with the jet at approximately 8:00 p.m. Aviano time, said the officials. Soon thereafter, Italian aircraft and ships were dispatched to the missing jet’s last-known location, they said, noting that they would release more information as it becomes available. (See Aviano’s Facebook page for updates.)
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.