US and Russian officials met via teleconference on Thursday to discuss how to protect their aircrews in Syria as Russia continued its airstrikes. Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said the meeting focused on basic proposals for aircrews, such as which radio frequency to use in emergencies and which language to speak over radio communications, the day after Russia kicked off its campaign. The discussion does not mean the US condones or supports what Russia has done, but is a move to protect American and coalition airmen in Operation Inherent Resolve. Cook refused to say if the US will protect coalition-trained moderate rebels if they are targeted by Russia in Syria, and would only tell reporters US officials “shared concerns” with Russian officials about who they are targeting. Russian airstrikes, both on Wednesday and Thursday, targeted areas that are not ISIS strongholds. Thursday’s meeting lasted about an hour, and there are not yet plans to have another discussion or to solidify any plans, Cook said.
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.