Briefer Briefs

US Strategic Command has put the final seal of approval on the Space Based Infrared System highly elliptical orbit (HEO-1) payload and ground system, per a Dec. 15 Lockheed Martin release; Air Force space officials approved HEO-1 for operational use last month. • The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System Preparatory Project successfully navigated the “most far-reaching and detailed review of operations” the risk-reduction program has had so far, said Northrop Grumman official Dave Vandervoet in a Dec. 16 release; the joint NASA, NOAA, and Air Force NPP is slated for launch in 2010. • Lockheed Martin’s Frank Cappuccio hails the successful autonomous landing demonstration by an F-16 recently as “a basis for further developing manned and unmanned vehicles that can meet the challenges facing the warfighters of tomorrow,” according to a Dec. 9 release, which noted that the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Calif., provided full flight test resources for the event, including the use of the VISTA/F-16 aircraft. • In another F-16 event, Col. Joseph Guastella, commander of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw AFB, S.C., surpassed 3,000 flying hours during a Dec. 12 sortie, per this Dec. 15 photo release.