Asked during AFA’s Air & Space Conference Tuesday about the division of labor on “near space” systems—high-flying ISR vehicles that would not be at orbital altitudes—Gen. Kevin Chilton, head of Air Force Space Command,said he and Air Combat Command chief Gen. Ron Keys have parsed it this way: “I do Kepler, and you do Bernoulli.” Kepler, of course, refined the laws of orbits, while Bernoulli’s work explained fluid dynamics, and lift, which makes airfoil flight possible. “We forgot about Boyle,” Chilton added with a grin. Boyle worked with expansion of hot gases; in other words, balloons. Chilton added that “near space” is a misnomer, because it only goes about one-quarter of the way to orbit.
When the Air Force sets a new program baseline for the B-52 re-engining this fall, there will be “some” cost increase, because the project wasn't previously fully funded, and the Air Force has a better handle on actual supplier costs and knowledge from ground testing, program officials said.