45th Space Wing supports successful shuttle launch

  • Published
The 45th Space Wing at nearby Patrick Air Force Base provided flawless support for NASA’s successful launch of Space Shuttle Discovery on July 26, officials said.

This was the shuttle’s first flight since the Columbia tragedy on Feb. 1, 2003.

The wing’s Department of Defense Manned Spaceflight Support Office joined with U.S. Strategic Command and North American Aerospace Defense/U.S. Northern Command to field a large cadre of search and recovery and security forces.

Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons enforced a temporary no-fly zone over the shuttle’s launch pad while other forces stood by at various locations, ready to respond in the event of a contingency. The standby rescue and recovery forces were not needed and the Eastern Range’s vast network of radar, telemetry, meteorological, optical and communications instrumentation assisted a picture-perfect launch.

“Congratulations to the entire NASA, DOD and government contractor launch team,” said Col. Mark Owen, 45th SW commander. “The DOD is proud of its contributions to assuring this safe and successful launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery.

“We’ve got a great partnership with NASA,” he said. “This launch validates the more than two years of hard work we’ve all invested in getting the shuttle back into orbit. This is a great day not only for our space program, but for the nation.”

The crewmembers on this mission are delivering supplies to the International Space Station and replacing critical components on the orbiting outpost. The crew will also test and evaluate new space shuttle flight safety, which includes new inspection and repair techniques.