USAF flies its first combat sortie with the new twin-engine turboprop MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft during a mission out of Joint Base Balad, Iraq. The first of the so-called Liberty Project Aircraft arrived in Iraq on June 8, 2009, following an accelerated acquisition effort. USAF plans to deploy six MC-12s to Iraq.
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.