Air Force: two military sat launchers needed
The U.S. Air Force said last month it remains convinced that both Boeing and Lockheed Martin must keep building rockets to ensure U.S. access to space, although it did not reach its goal of securing $1 billion in extra funding for the companies, according to Reuters.
The Pentagon's proposed five-year budget beginning in fiscal year 2004 foresees $538.8 million in additional budget funding for the companies, which are developing advanced booster rockets to get U.S. military satellites into space. That's just over half of the $1 billion in additional funds the Air Force had sought for its Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle in a bid to offset a continuing downturn in the commercial satellite market. The extra funds will cover the companies' cost of leasing government-owned facilities and various engineering programs.
Airbus may not reach 300-plane delivery goal
The top executive of Airbus' majority owner said last month that the European airplane maker will have trouble meeting its 300-airplane delivery forecast in 2003, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Bloomberg.
Boeing has said it expects to deliver 280 jetliners this year.
Although Airbus has pulled ahead of Boeing in new airplane orders, including in the past two years, it has never come close to Boeing in jetliner production.
Military using commercial airplanes
The military's use of commercial airlines to send troops to the Middle East could help the industry squeeze some revenue out of planes and pilots idled by slumping demand. But analysts note that Uncle Sam's flying isn't as lucrative as civilian trips, reported the New York Times.
''When you have excess planes and excess pilots, you're happy to have the military meet its demand using the airlines,'' said Glenn Engel, an analyst with Goldman Sachs. The 78 planes covered under orders issued in mid-February make up only a fraction of the nation's commercial fleet.
The U.S. Transportation Command relies on chartered commercial aircraft to move 93 percent of its troops and 41 percent of its long-range air cargo, said U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Honda, a command spokesman at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Ill.
Last month, the Pentagon activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet for just the second time since the program's creation in 1951. The other time came before and during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The latest activation came because U.S. airlift needs have exceeded the military's capabilities during the buildup before a possible war in Iraq. In the mobilization's first stage, officials can call up 47 passenger planes and 31 cargo planes.
The program helps carriers now, but one analyst worried about the effect if military flights continue longer than expected. The danger comes if the Pentagon continues activating its Civil Reserve Air Fleet into the spring, when leisure travel demand rises, said Michael Boyd, president of The Boyd Group, an aviation consulting firm based in Evergreen, Colo. That could force airlines with little excess capacity to divert planes to move troops and supplies, offering less chance of making a profit under the emergency activation rules than flying spring commercial routes, Boyd said.
China still plans manned launch
China is sticking to plans for a manned space launch this year, confident its rockets are safe, the head of the country's main civilian space agency said recently. According to The Associated Press, comments by Zhang Qingwei, president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., to the China Daily newspaper were the highest-level affirmation yet of Chinese determination to go ahead with a manned flight.
The government hasn't announced a launch date, but earlier reports put it in the second half of this year.
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