Mihail Kogalniceanu AB, Romania, is now the US military’s main air transit hub for supporting operations in Afghanistan, replacing the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. MK, as it is known, took on this lead role at the beginning of February, according to a release from 18th Air Force. The Kyrgyz government decided not to renew the US lease to Manas, forcing US officials to begin planning approximately a year ago to shift operations to a new hub, states the Feb. 18 release. “By standing up MK, we are able to continue to support the movement of our troops without missing a beat,” said Chris Rosenthal, 18th AF transition planner. “Thanks to our partnership with the Romanian authorities, we negotiated an increase in the airport’s weight-bearing capacity that allowed us to add additional fuel,” said Lt. Col. Todd McCoy, 780th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander. “Now, we save over $20,000 each mission,” he said. The shift comes at a crucial time as US forces in Afghanistan are drawing down and massive amounts of military hardware and material are flowing out of Southwest Asia. The Manas lease expires in July. (Scott report by Maj. Michael Meridith)
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.