Sequestration took effect on March 1, as congressional leaders were unable to broker an 11th-hour deal to prevent it from kicking in. The Pentagon, facing up to the possibility of no deal, has been hoarding cash since mid-January, repeatedly warning that it can’t absorb the sequestration cuts without profound effects on the military, especially on readiness. Though war-bound units will have priority, the Air Force will have to lay off or furlough tens of thousands of civilians, and some flying units may be idled for months at a time. Returning those people to proficiency will be a long and difficult process, and in the meantime, the Air Force will indeed be hollow. Sequestration is just part of a “perfect storm” of fiscal crises affecting the service, though, as the never-ending budget continuing resolution and debt ceiling battles also take their toll. Click here to continue to On the Brink of Sequestration, our coverage of sequestration’s effects.
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.