Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over Southwest Asia, Feb. 24, 2021.

Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over Southwest Asia, Feb. 24, 2021. U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Bryan Guthrie

The Air & Space Brief: Fighter pilots & cancer; space “superhighway”; Bezos’ space station B&B

Welcome to the Defense One Air and Space newsletter. Here are our top stories this week:  

First links between fighter pilots and cancer: The Air Force Research Laboratory’s 711th Human Performance Wing has found that fighter pilots and weapon systems officers face a far higher risk for some types of cancers, in the most comprehensive study to date on cancer risks and military aviation. A DOD-wide look at aviator cancer rates across all services is expected by year’s end. Defense One has more, here

Space “superhighway”: U.S. Transportation Command and the U.S. Space Force are planning for a future space superhighway system where the United States, commercial partners, and allies would be able to make repeat, regular trips to the moon or beyond by using multiple hubs where they could gas up, have maintenance done, and even throw out their trash. And they are planning to build one first, before China beats them to it. 

A bit of shade on the USAF software head who quit: The Pentagon’s AI chief wasn’t too gracious with former USAF software lead Nicholas Chaillan, who quit after expressing frustration that the U.S. is too far behind China. “There are thousands of members of the Department of Defense who come to work every day to fight that fight. There are certainly the frustrated few who fight that fight and say, ‘I can’t take it anymore; I’ve got to go’,” Joint Artificial Intelligence Center chief Lt. Gen. Michael Groen said at a conference this week. 

Bezos’ space-station B&B: Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin announced Monday it is partnering with Sierra Space and Boeing to build a space hotel/office park named “Orbital Reef” before the end of the decade. The space station would transit low earth orbit, and might not be the only one out there, BBC reported. “Nanoracks, Voyager Space, and Lockheed Martin announced [their] own plans to launch a space station into low orbit by 2027.”

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. Oct. 27, 1961 marked NASA’s  first successful test of the Saturn I rocket.


From Defense One

Cancers Strike US Fighter Pilots, Crews at Higher Rates, Air Force Finds // Tara Copp: Nearly 30% higher likelihood of testicular cancer and roughly 25% for skin and prostate cancer, according to the military’s most comprehensive study yet.

The Military is Preparing for a ‘Space Superhighway,’ Complete with Pit Stops // Tara Copp: Those hubs would do more than refuel spaceships; they are seen as key to staying ahead of China.

Pentagon AI Chief Responds to USAF Software Leader Who Quit in Frustration // Patrick Tucker: Lt. Gen. Groen concedes culture must change, but says faster development is already on the way.

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