Did the US Air Force commit to an air strike on a Space X booster?

No, it was not an Air Force asset; it was a SpaceX asset. However, according to international treaty, all launch vehicles are the legal responsibility of the nation from whose soil they are launched. So, a booster first stage that’s unexpectedly floating around in international waters (when it was supposed to have been recovered on a barge) posed a legal liability for the US government.

Hypothetically, it may have been physically possible to tow the floating first stage back to shore, but there was no good reason to do so. The SpaceX boosters are designed to be recovered and reused IF they successfully perform a soft landing on a hard surface. If, instead, the booster is dumped into salt water in an uncontrolled manner, it becomes practically useless for reflight. So at that point, the value of the booster became zero, and the cheapest thing to do was obviously to sink it. Since the US government had a legal liability in the matter, the Air Force could be officially tasked to deal with the matter.

a reply to: Zelun

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