A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., March 1, 2022.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launches from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., March 1, 2022. U.S. Space Force / Joshua Conti

The Air & Space Brief: Ukraine spurs space; Russia’s 300 daily sorties; Humanitarian airlift?

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

Ukraine’s impact on space: In previous wars, in order to control the land, you had to control the sky. Ukraine may become the first conflict to prove that air dominance now must reach into space, too, and Congress is taking note. “This conflict has put the entire space architecture in the forefront of combat and operations. It is the ultimate higher ground,” said Rich Cooper, vice president of outreach for the Space Foundation. “Today that ‘sky’ is 40-plus miles above the Earth.”

Russia ramps up air war: Russia launched more than 300 fighter jet and bomber sorties in one 24 hour period in an escalation of its air war, the Pentagon said Monday, as Russian leader Vladimir Putin continues an indiscriminate aerial bombardment of Ukrainian cities and infrastructure. But not all of those sorties are dropping weapons; the Pentagon has seen a significant number of failed launches, or bombs that don’t detonate. Additionally, Russia is tearing through its precision-guided munitions stock, which may be part of the reason they are now relying more on “dumb bombs,” a defense official said.

Humanitarian airlift: The White House and NATO leaders have ruled out the possibility of a broad no-fly zone over Ukraine, to avoid the risk of direct combat between Russia and the western alliance. However, a focused, strategically designed, protected humanitarian air corridor could deliver desperately needed relief to Ukrainians, including food, water, medical aid, and other humanitarian supplies, Philip Breedlove and Barry Pavel argue for Defense One

SpaceX Subscribers: SpaceX now has more than 250,000 subscribers for its Starlink satellite broadband service and is building nearly eight new satellites a day, SpaceNews reported Tuesday at Satellite 2022. The Starlink terminal connection software became Ukraine’s most-downloaded app after Elon Musk sent terminals to Ukraine and re-tasked Starlink satellites. 

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Tuesday from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. He was just 39 years early: On March 23, 1983, President Ronald Reagan called for the United States to commit to a space-based ballistic missile defense system, the Strategic Defense Initiative, which earned the nickname “Star Wars.” The Pentagon ended the SDI program in 1993.

From Defense One

State of Defense 2022 // Defense One Staff

Our annual service-by-service look at where the U.S. military is, and where it's going.

Russia Speeds Up Air War Over Ukraine, As Some Munitions Run Low or Malfunction // Tara Copp

Russian bombers, fighter jets flew 300 sorties over the last 24 hours, Pentagon says.

It's Time for a Protected Humanitarian Airlift into Lviv // Philip Breedlove and Barry Pavel

Russia has no right to dictate who may fly into and out of Ukrainian airspace.