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​It’s not clear what happened to a top secret Northrop Grumman payload launched aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday, but SpaceX officials say their rocket “did everything correctly.” SpaceX photo of lift off from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla.


US Military Satellite Evidently Missing After Cape Canaveral Launch

It is not clear what has happened to a satellite launched from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., Sunday. Despite early media reports that the rocket crashed into the sea after the top secret payload—code named Zuma—failed to properly separate, SpaceX president and chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement Tuesday that after reviewing “all data to date,” the Falcon 9 “did everything correctly” Sunday night. “If we or others find otherwise based on further review, we will report it immediately. Information published that is contrary to this statement is categorically false. Due to the classified nature of the payload, no further comment is possible,” she said. This is not the first time a payload launched from a SpaceX rocket has been lost. In September 2016, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying an Israeli satellite was destroyed when an oxygen tank exploded during a pre-launch fire test. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying supplies for the International Space Station also exploded after lift off in June 2015. —Steve Hirsch

Understanding Multi-Domain Command and Control

The Air Force is trying to master “the complexity of multi-domain command and control” and it’s reaching out to industry for help. Read the full story by Steve Hirsch.

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Orbital ATK Working Toward National Security Space Launch Certification

The Space and Missile Systems Center and Orbital ATK have signed a Cooperative Research and Development agreement, that allows the government and the company to share data and proprietary information as part of Orbital’s effort to have its Next Generation Launcher certified for National Security Space missions. The company is still in the early production and development phase of the NGL, which it says will share a common propulsion, structures, and avionics systems with other company programs, such as the Pegasus, Minotaur, and AntaresTM space launch vehicles. It will not only be capable of carrying the “entire spectrum of national security payloads,” but also larger science and commercial satellites. Currently, only United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV and Atlas V rockets and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 are certified for NSS launches. The Air Force has repeatedly emphasized the importance of competition in reducing the cost of national security launches. The lengthy NSS certification process is intended to “provide the Air Force with high confidence that launch providers are capable of meeting launch requirements for NSS missions according to the New Entrant Certification Guide,” according to an SMS release. Orbital ATK and the Air Force have jointly invested more than $200 million to develop the NGL. “The next phase of the NGL program is expected to begin when the Air Force awards launch services agreements in mid 2018, which would entail full vehicle and launch site development,” according to a company release. Work will take place at Orbital facilities in Utah, Mississippi, and Arizona, as well as at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Vandenberg AFB, Calif. —Amy McCullough


20th Air Force Commander Promoted to Lieutenant General

The Senate last month confirmed Maj. Gen. Anthony Cotton, the commander of the 20th Air Force, for promotion to lieutenant general. He is to take command of the Air University at Maxwell AFB, Ala. Maj. Gen. Fred Stoss, Air Force Global Strike Command director of operations and communications, at Barksdale AFB, La., will replace Cotton at 20th Air Force during a change-of-command ceremony Jan. 26. The 20th Air Force is based at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. That state’s Republican senator, Mike Enzi, lauded Cotton’s service there and expressed support for Cotton’s promotion “with appreciation of the challenges he's faced and with an eye on those yet to come."  —Steve Hirsch
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RADAR SWEEP


—Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), a retired USAF brigadier general and former EC-130H mission crew commander, said the US is “moderately prepared” to conduct electronic warfare in a “low-end fight like we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan. … But in a high-end fight, we are not prepared:” Breaking Defense.

—Combat aviation advisors are now authorized to wear a brown beret, an “important cultural symbol,” according to Air Force Special Operations Command boss Lt. Gen. Brad Webb: AFSOC release.

—Rick Edwards was named executive vice president of Lockheed Martin International and Frank St. John as executive vice president of Lockheed’s Missiles and Fire Control: Company release.

—A Royal Saudi Air Force combat aircraft crashed in Yemen on Jan. 7. Both crew members were rescued without injury: IHS Jane’s.