Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency officials celebrated the opening of the new USAF-run fuels-testing lab at the service’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. They dedicated the petroleum, oil, and lubricants facility on April 13. Until now, the Air Force had to ship all fuel samples from Plant 42 north to Edwards Air Force Base for analysis—a costly, slow, and burdensome endeavor. With on-site testing now possible in the POL lab, “Plant 42 will be able to ensure all aircraft operations, whether military or contractor, receive clean, dry fuel to support their missions, and with a substantial savings to the Air Force,” states a Palmdale release. Air Force Material Command manages Plant 42, a military aerospace complex with two 12,000-foot runways. Contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman work on advanced aircraft concepts there.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.