Atlas V launch scores major milestones
By Ken Warren, 45th SW Public Affairs
/ Published December 13, 2007
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- Shortly after the Atlas V rumbled off the pad late Monday afternoon, Maj. Dewitt Morgan "high-fived" Rick Day in the Morrell Operations Center's mission control room and said, "Great launch! Way to turn the Range."
The two members of the 1st Range Operations Squadron were in celebratory moods as the Atlas V carried a National Reconnaissance Office payload into space. The reason: In the wake of NASA's scrubbing of the STS-122 space shuttle mission early Sunday morning, 1 ROPS led the 45th Space Wing's charge to get the Eastern Range reconfigured in less than 36 hours to support the Atlas V launch.
The successful launch also buoyed the spirits of 1st Lt. Georgene Hilb, Deputy Atlas Lead for the 5th Space Launch Squadron. In that capacity she'd worked tirelessly supporting booster processing, monitoring facility status and serving as the 45th SW's point of contact for spacecraft integration. But for her, nothing matched the thrill of launch day. "I was excited seeing this payload get into orbit. This was the shortest flow for an Atlas V from booster on stand to initial launch capability -- 43 days, seven days shorter than the Astra mission that launched in April 2006."
On launch day, Lieutenant Hilb's responsibilities included tracking Atlas V countdown processing and anomalies for the government team and providing status to senior leadership.
"The beautiful liftoff was the best part of working this mission. It's a great feeling to know that our success here directly enhances our national security," she said.